Practice Areas

Principal Office
Office: 817.275.4100
Fax: 817.275.4106

2301 E Lamar Blvd.
Suite 175
Arlington, Texas 76006
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Handling Child Support Responsibly, to Protect You and Your Child

Texas law requires that the "non-custodial" parent (i.e. the parent whose home is not the child's primary residence) pay child support. Most people have a vague idea of how child support works, but there are a few important points to remember:

1. Child Support Does Not Necessarily End When the Child Turns 18

In Texas, the parent paying child support will generally continue to do so until the child turns 18 or graduates from high school, whichever happens later. If the child is disabled, however, support payments extend beyond those points.

2. Child Support Can Be Modified

Texas has a formula for calculating the minimum child support obligation. Courts may vary from the formula by taking into account certain factors including: the financial resources of each parent; whether the parent to pay support has other children to support also; whether the parent receiving support is deliberately unemployed or underemployed; the cost of travel by the non-custodial parent to pick up the child for visitation; how much time each parent gets with the child; and the expenses necessary to send the child to college, if that is planned. Furthermore, the amount originally ordered may be changed later. For example, if the parent paying child support loses her job, or if the parent who receives the child support requires more money to care for the child, modifications may be necessary.

3. Keep the Texas Attorney General Clued In

The Attorney General's office controls and monitors all child support in Texas. Sometimes parents attempt to keep an informal and unofficial child support payment schedule, but this is not a good idea. Even if you and your child's other parent were never married, you must go through the Attorney General's office for child support plans. Any payments that you make that are not documented by the Attorney General's office for all intents and purposes DID NOT happen. You do not want to become liable for back child support that you actually paid but which did not go through the AG's office.

4. Failure to Pay Child Support Comes with Consequences

The State of Texas takes child support obligations very seriously and allows enforcement measures that may seem harsh at first blush. If you fail to pay child support, your checking account(s) may be garnished, any license you hold—whether it is a driver's license, a professional license, a hunting or fishing license—can be suspended, your federal income tax refund can be taken, and you can put in jail for contempt of court.

Common Considerations in a Divorce

The Bottom Line of Child Support

The bottom line is that having a competent divorce attorney handle your child child support issues at the time of divorce can help to head off conflict or financial difficulties that may put both you and your child in a difficult situation later. You can still seek modifications to the child support order in the future if circumstances dictate it, but having a workable plan in place now can make future modifications based on documented need less contentious.

If you are getting divorced and have children or if you are seeking modifications to your existing child support order, whether you are the custodial or non-custodial parent, contact Jim Ross & Associates at (817) 275.4100 to schedule a free consultation.