Let’s face it – children are EXPENSIVE! Determining how to pay for the children going forward is one of the primary issues facing couples going through divorce. If you are separating from, or not living with, the other parent of your child you may be concerned about how you are going to afford the child on your own.
The Texas Family Code provides that all parents shall support their children. When parents no longer reside together, the Texas Family Code provides for one parent to pay the other parent his or her share of the child support. The parent receiving the child support is then responsible for making sure that the child has all his or her support needs met: clothing; housing; daycare; groceries; etc.
Child support also includes paying for health insurance and 50% of unreimbursed medical expenses.
Most families will have a traditional arrangement with the child primarily residing with one parent and visiting with the other parent with a Standard Possession Order or Expanded Standard Possession Order on weekends, holidays and extended time in the summer. However, we are seeing more and more families that are splitting possession time more equally.
If your child is on a Standard Possession Order or an Expanded Standard Possession Order then the Texas Family Code provides for State Guideline Support. The legislature has enacted guidelines which establish child support based upon the income of the obligor. The guidelines provide that child support will be 20% of the obligor’s net income for one child; 25% for two children; etc. The child support calculator can let you know what child support is most likely going to be Ordered by the court.
Although most cases will follow the guideline support provided by the legislature, the Courts can deviate from the guidelines for “good cause”. One of the more common reasons for deviating from the guideline support is when parents spend an equal amount of time with the child.
If you split possession time more equally the court might:
- Calculate what each parent would owe the other parent under the child support calculator and order that the parent with the higher amount owed pay the difference;
- Order that the child support calculator still be used for the parent that has the higher earning capacity;
- Order that no child support be paid by either parent (other than the health insurance and 50% of the unreimbursed medical); or
- Deviate from the guideline support in a way that the court feels is in the “best interest” of the child.
There are various reasons why a court might deviate from child support guidelines, even in a traditional possession arrangement. The court can consider the following factors when deciding whether to deviate from guideline support:
- The age and needs of the child;
- The child’s educational expenses beyond secondary school;
- Provisions for health insurance and payment of uninsured medical expenses;
- Extraordinary educational, health-care, or other expenses of the parties or of the child;
- Ay resources available for the child’s support;
- Whether either party has managing conservatorship or possession of another child;
- Each party’s period of possession of access to the child;
- Travel costs for exercising possession of and access to the child;
- Child-care expenses that allow either party to maintain gainful employment;
- Each parent’s respective ability to contribute to the child’s support;
- The paying parent’s net resources, including the paying parent’s earning potential if intentionally unemployed or underemployed;
- Spousal maintenance paid or received by a party;
- Whether either party has a car, housing, or other benefits provided by an employer, another person, or a business entity;
- Paycheck deductions, other than those already factored into calculating monthly net resources;
- Cash flow from any real and personal property, including businesses or investments;
- Debts assumed by either party; and
- Any other reason consistent with the child’s best interest, taking into consideration the parents’ circumstances.
Many parents are agreeing to split costs of children in a manner that makes more sense for their child. Most courts will permit this as long as it is in the “best interest” of the child. Some of those arrangements range from sharing a checking account where each parent deposits a predetermined amount and from which the expenses of the child are paid by either parent to designating which parent will pay for which expenses of the child.
Most child support is paid through the Special Disbursement Unit through the state. The state then sends the payment to the receiving parent. Only when parents are sharing a joint account for the child or when parents are Ordered to pay specific items instead of child support will the state not be involved in the payment.
As you can see there are many possibilities and options with respect to child support. Our experienced family law attorneys can help you negotiate child support in a manner that is in the “best interest” of the child and makes sense for your family. To learn more about how child support will affect you contact our family law attorneys today for at 214-265-7630 to schedule a consultation today.