Child support issues can be yet another hurdle you must overcome in order for your divorce to be final. In the state of Texas, it is physical custody—the amount of time a parent spends with a child—that determines child support payments. From that point, the amount of the payments is based on a percentage of the non-custodial parent’s income. While parents are free to pay more than the guidelines determine, they are typically not allowed to agree between themselves to pay less child support.
There may be certain circumstances where the result from the Texas child support guidelines would be unfair to a parent or child, meaning the court could adjust the amount of support, either up or down. At Landrith & Kulesz, L.L.P., we understand the journey a divorce can take you on, and that this particular journey might not always be easy, or pleasant. What our firm brings to the table is a high level of experience, skill, and knowledge, as well as compassion for your current situation. No matter what side of the child support issue you are on—receiving or paying—we vow to work hard to ensure the end result is equitable. If you are involved in a divorce or have a child support issue at hand, contact Landrith & Kulesz, L.L.P. for the legal help you need and deserve.
Factors in Texas Child Support
In the state of Texas, one parent may be ordered to make periodic payments to the other, depending on possession of the child and the overall financial situations of both parents. The ultimate goal is to provide the same standard of living for the children that they enjoyed while their parents were married. The factors considered by the court when determining child support will include—at a minimum—the following:
- The costs the parent with visitation will incur when making the trip to see the child;
- What level of financial resources both parents currently have;
- The age of the child;
- Any special needs the child may have;
- The degree to which each parent is able to contribute to the support of the child;
- What level of access each parent will have following the divorce;
- Whether childcare will be necessary as a result of the employment of either parent;
- If a parent has custody of other children or if the parent is currently paying or receiving child support for other children, this will be taken into consideration;
- The child’s health care needs;
- The child’s educational needs, including future educational needs;
- The financial obligations of each parent;
- Provisions for health care and insurance for the children, and
- Any other relevant factors.
Percent of Income Model
Once the courts have established which parent will pay child support, the state of Texas operates on a percentage of income model, which is determined by factoring in the number of children requiring support. Many people believe that this particular model does not allow for other pertinent details, making it somewhat less than exact. In its most basic form, the percent of income model will apply the following to the parent ordered to pay child support in a somewhat arbitrary manner:
- One child=20% of Obligor’s Net Resources
- Two children=25% of Obligor’s Net Resources
- Three children=30% of Obligor’s Net Resources
- Four children=35% of Obligor’s Net Resources
- Five children=40% of Obligor’s Net Resources
- Six or more children=Not less than 40% of Obligor’s Net Resources
Keep in mind that “net resources” can be defined rather broadly, and that if the net resources of the parent obligated to pay child support exceed $8,550 per month, they could be ordered to pay additional amounts above and beyond the percent of income model. In addition to the monthly child support payments, the parent may also be required to maintain health and dental insurance for the children under his or her employer health insurance policy.
The court will usually provide orders on who is to pay deductibles and uninsured expenses. The court may also order the parent to secure life insurance in an amount large enough to cover the amount of child support that would have been due until the children reached the age of 18. Remember to always depend on your Texas divorce attorney for his or her experienced advice as to what the courts will consider when deciding your particular child support case.
Child Custody Basics
Like the courts in most states, the Texas courts will do everything possible to promote a mutually beneficial agreement between the parents in the matter of child custody, with the children’s best interests always being the primary goal. What you or your spouse want regarding the custody of your children may not be given all that much weight, if the two of you are unable to agree on the best interests of the child.
Joint Managing Conservator
While Texas courts may award sole or joint custody, they will initially operate under the presumption of joint managing conservators. Joint Managing Conservator, in short, means sharing the rights, duties, privileges, and powers between the two parents, although the exclusive power to make certain decisions may be awarded to one parent alone. In Joint Managing Conservator arrangements, the right to determine the physical residence is usually designated by the court to one parent.
What Will Determine Parental Custody?
If you go into your custody hearing with the idea that you are the only parent who deserves custody, you could be in real trouble. The judge in your case will expect to hear both sides state only what directly benefits the children. The Texas court will likely use the following criteria when determining custody:
- The ability of the parents to reach shared decisions in the child’s best interests and to give top priority to the child’s welfare;
- Whether the appointment of joint managing conservators will fully meet the physical, psychological, and emotional needs of the child;
- Whether both parents are able to maintain a positive relationship between themselves and between the child and the other parent;
- To what extent both parents participated in child rearing prior to filing for divorce, and
- The geographical proximity of the parents as well as the logistics of shared custody.
There may be other factors considered as well; if your children are older than twelve years, their preferences regarding custody may be taken into consideration.
How Landrith & Kulesz, L.L.P. Can Help with Your Child Support Issues
Child custody and child support issues generally go hand-in-hand, and all decisions related to children tend to be fraught with emotion. It can be extremely beneficial to have an experienced Texas family law attorney to negotiate on your behalf. Your Landrith & Kulesz, L.L.P. attorney is highly skilled in all family law issues, including child support. When you choose Landrith & Kulesz, L.L.P., you will have a top family law attorney in Arlington, Texas, who will aggressively fight for you, your children, your rights, and your future. Contact a Landrith & Kulesz, L.L.P. attorney today.