Child Support Attorney Houston: Fiercely Defending the Future of You and Your Children.
Are you struggling to secure the child support you and your children deserve? If so, you’re not alone. Navigating the legal system can be overwhelming and stressful, particularly when dealing with child support issues. Fortunately, the attorneys at The Farias Law Firm in Texas are here to help.
Our compassionate and experienced child support lawyers are dedicated to advocating for the best interests of you and your children. We understand the emotional and financial toll that child support disputes can take, and we’re here to guide you through the process and ensure that you and your children secure a fair outcome.
At The Farias Law Firm, we’re committed to providing personalized legal services tailored to your unique situation, and we’ll work tirelessly to help you achieve the best possible outcome. We can help you with all child support related legal issues, including establishing a new child support order, modifying an existing one, or filing contempt proceedings to secure missing payments.
Contact us today to schedule your consultation with one of our knowledgeable child support lawyers at 713-364-3942.
What Is Child Support?
In Texas, parents have a legal responsibility to ensure that their child’s basic needs are met, such as food, housing, and shelter. When parents divorce or separate, they will need to establish a child custody arrangement. It is common for one parent to become the custodial parent with whom the child lives most of the time. The other parent, known as the non-custodial parent, will usually have visitation rights. An established parenting plan helps to foster stability and security for the child and ensures that they benefit from regular contact with both parents.
Child support is intended to equal the costs of meeting a child’s needs, which means the non-custodial parent is usually ordered to pay child support to the other. Once a child support order is in place, the receiving parent becomes the obligee, and the paying parent becomes the obligor. The order is legally binding, and its terms must be adhered to. Any missed payments go into arrears, and the obligor will need to pay the obligee all unpaid child support eventually.
Child support is a lifeline for parents who need that money to meet their child’s needs. However, it must also be fair and not place that obligor in undue financial hardship. At The Farias Law Firm, we can help you establish a fair child support amount that is in line with Texas family law.
When Does Child Support End in Texas?
In Texas, child support payments typically end when the child turns 18 or graduates from high school, whichever comes later. However, if the child has a disability that prevents them from supporting themselves, child support payments may continue beyond these milestones.
It’s important to note that child support payments can only be changed by court order, so if you have questions or concerns about your child support payments, it’s best to speak with an experienced child support lawyer who can advise you on your options.
How is Child Support Calculated in Texas?
Most child support orders will be based on state guidelines, which are presumed to be reasonable for the parents and in the child’s best interests.
The child support obligation is based on each parent’s Net Monthly Income (NMI), and the number of children they have. The basic guidelines are as follows:
- One Child – 20%
- Two Children – 25%
- Three Children – 30%
- Four Children – 35%
- Five Children – 40%
- Six Children – No less than 40%
*If the obligor’s net monthly income (NMI) exceeds $9,200, then these calculations will be applied to the first $9,200.
Medical and Dental Care Obligations in Texas
Parents also have a legal obligation to ensure that their child’s medical needs are met. In accordance with state guidelines, health insurance must be provided by the obligor if it is available at a reasonable cost. The cost of health insurance premiums is considered reasonable if it is no more than 9% of gross annual income. The obligor must also provide dental coverage if it is available at a reasonable cost, which is considered to be no more than 1.5% of gross annual income.
Are Child Support Guidelines Absolute in Texas?
Although most child support cases are determined by state guidelines, the court can deviate from them. This is because all family law decisions that involve children must be made in the child’s best interests, and child support is no exception.
One example of when a deviation from state guidelines may be justified is in cases involving high assets. After the breakdown of a marriage involving high assets, the standard child support order may be insufficient to meet your child’s needs. For example, if your child has attended private education, then the court will consider whether or not to maintain this. It’s considered to be in the child’s best interest to maintain stability and to keep their life as normal as possible. If a higher child support order is required to achieve this, then your attorney will try to help you secure an order that meets your child’s needs.
A child support order that deviates from guidelines may also be appropriate in cases involving a child with a mental or physical incapacity. In this situation, more child support might be needed to meet the child’s needs. In addition, if the parent is unable to work due to their caregiving responsibilities, then this could justify a spousal support order. A child support order for a child with a mental or physical incapacity that prevents them from becoming self-sufficient may also result in an order that continues indefinitely rather than stopping when they turn 18.
Can Child Support Agreements be Changed?
When a child support order has been issued by the court, it creates a legal obligation. However, the court also understands that modifications are sometimes necessary.
If you and your spouse or former spouse agree to a modification, then you can apply jointly. A Judge will be required to approve your child support modification, which they will do based on the child’s best interests.
However, if you are pursuing a contested modification, you must provide evidence of a substantial and material change in circumstances. For example, if the obligor has lost their job, then it may justify a change in the child support order. If you are applying for a contested modification, then it is beneficial to seek the help of an attorney who can help you evidence your claims to a court.
You can also apply for a modification action if the order has been in place for three years or more and the amount that would be ordered in accordance with current guidelines varies by $100 or 20%.
Enforcing Child Support in Texas
Court-ordered child support must be paid in full. If you are an obligated parent and cannot manage your current order, then you should file for a modification with the help of an attorney. Missed payments never disappear and must be paid back eventually, often with interest. Therefore, the sooner you can secure a modification, the better.
Alternatively, if you are an obligee who is missing child support payments, then an attorney can help you take the appropriate action. At the Farias law firm, we always prioritize maintaining family dynamics where possible, which means that our first point of action will be to try and negotiate with your former spouse and to arrange a payment plan for them to pay back what they owe you.
This is an important first step as they may have a good reason for missed payments. For example, if they’ve lost their job, then it’s their responsibility to find work again quickly in order to provide for their child. However, they may need an opportunity to arrange a payment plan that is manageable. It is important to know that the obligor cannot avoid paying child support by not working. The court can order child support based on their earning capability rather than their actual income if necessary.
If the obligor repeatedly misses child support payments or refuses to cooperate, we can help you file contempt proceedings with the Court. Contempt proceedings can result in wage garnishment, interception of federal income tax returns, suspension of professional licenses such as driver’s licenses or business licenses, and suspension of a passport. If they are found guilty of contempt of court, they could also be issued a fine, a jail sentence, or both.
Can Child Support Payments Be Backdated or Retro-Active?
If the obligor has not had child support responsibilities for any reason, then the court could backdate them or make the payments retro-active. For example, if you had to establish paternity before a child support order could be put in place, then the obligor could be made to pay retroactive child support.
In order to determine how much child support is owed, the court could look at how much child support could have been issued, as per state guidelines. However, they will also consider whether backdated child support would place undue hardship on the obligor, and whether the obligor provided for their child in other ways during the period in question.
In a case that involved establishing paternity, the court will also consider whether the mother made attempts to let the father know of their paternity.
Backdated child support payments can be requested for up to four years before the date of the petition in Texas. But if it can be proven that the obligor knew they had to pay child support and deliberately avoided it, they may be required to make payments for a period exceeding four years.
Why Is it Important to Hire a Child Support Lawyer?
An experienced child support lawyer can help you establish an order that prioritizes your child’s best interests. At The Farias Law Firm, we will prioritize negotiations where possible, which will allow you to come to personalized agreements that best meet the needs of you and your family, while also saving time and money on court proceedings. When you negotiate an agreement, it needs to be approved by a Judge, who will only approve it if it’s in line with the best interest of the child and allowed in family law. Your attorney can help make sure this happens while also ensuring that deadlines are met, paperwork is filed correctly and all relevant factors are properly considered.
When negotiations break down, our attorneys will also be prepared to advocate on your behalf in front of a Judge. We will ensure you have a robust case to support an outcome that best serves you and your children. Family law issues are some of the most emotional legal issues that a person faces. But when you have the support of a dedicated attorney, they can ensure that you have the tools and guidance you need to reach a decision that supports your future.
Speak to The Dedicated Attorneys at The Farias Law Firm Today
Decisions related to child support can have a significant impact on your life as well as your children’s lives for years to come. That’s why it’s crucial to reach fair and reasonable decisions.
At The Farias Law Firm, we believe in providing personalized attention to our clients. Our attorneys take the time to listen to your unique circumstances, inform you of your legal rights, and keep you updated throughout the entire process. Contact us today to schedule a consultation and learn how we can help you with your child support case.
So give us a call today at 713-364-3942 to speak to one of our experienced child support attorneys.