Archive for May, 2019



Child support payments that the Texas court ordered may be helpful, but you may be feeling that the money does not stretch far enough to cover the necessities. However, if your circumstances or your ex’s have changed since your original support order, you may be wondering if you can request a modification of that order.

Why might I seek a child support modification?

It is common for a supporting partner to request modifications when he or she experiences a financial setback. If your ex-partner asks the court to reduce his or her payment amount, it may be related to job loss, a medical emergency or another situation that makes it difficult to meet the obligations of the order. However, it is not unusual for a custodial parent to seek an adjustment to the amount he or she receives each month for any of these or other reasons:

• You experience a financial hardship that makes it difficult to maintain the home where the child lives.

• Your child has unexpected or ongoing medical expenses.

• Your child requires educational services that would be an added cost to you.

• You are struggling with an increase in the normal cost of items or services you provide for your child with support funds.

• You learn that your ex-spouse has experienced a financial advantage, such as a raise, promotion or inheritance.

Your first step in seeking a modification is to obtain information about whether you are eligible.

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If In Texas, generally, parents are only legally obligated to support a child until the age of 18 or until he or she stops going to high school. However, there are circumstances in which this is not always the case.

According to Texas law, if the child is disabled for an indefinite period, it is possible for support to continue.

Court Ordered Support for a Disabled Child:

The court can potentially order one or both parents to provide support for a child for an indefinite amount of time if the court finds:

• The child, regardless if he or she is institutionalized, requires substantial personal supervision and care due to a mental or physical disability and will be unable to self-support

• A disability exists, or the cause of a disability is known to exist, on or before the child’s 18th birthday

How Much Child Support Will a Court Order?

To determine the amount that is to be paid after the child’s 18th birthday, the court will consider some of the following:

• Any of the child’s existing or future needs that relate to his or her mental or physical disability and the substantial care and personal supervision that is required for it

• Whether the parent currently pays or plans on paying for the care or supervision of the adult child or will provide care or personal supervision

• The financial resources that are available from both parents

• Other financial resources that are available for the care, support, and supervision.

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A Texas child support court order usually states the following:

Payment being due and payable on the first day of each month thereafter until the first month following the date of the earliest occurrence of one of the events specified below:

1. the child reaches the age of eighteen years or graduates from high school, whichever occurs later, subject to the provisions for support beyond the age of eighteen years set out below;

2. the child marries;

3. the child dies;

4. the child enlists in the armed forces of the United States and begins active service as defined by section 101 of title 10 of the United States Code; or

5. the child’s disabilities are otherwise removed for general purposes; or

If the child is eighteen years of age and has not graduated from high school, IT IS ORDERED that obligor’s obligation to pay child support to obligee shall not terminate but shall continue for as long as the child is enrolled-

1. in an accredited secondary school in a program leading toward a high school diploma or in courses for joint high school and junior college, OR

2. on a full-time basis in a private secondary school in a program leading toward a high school diploma.

In order to ensure that all of your payments are kept on track and documented, it is imperative that you make all payments through the Texas State Disbursement Unit. In doing so, all of your payments will be processed by the Attorney General’s Office of Texas and then they will be distributed to the parent receiving the child support.

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Unmarried Texas Couple with Child – Steps to take to Establish the Parent Relationship

Establishing Paternity

A child does not have a legally recognized father if the parents are not married unless a few steps are first taken to establish paternity.

Paternity in Texas can be established voluntarily and involuntarily:

• Voluntarily: If both the mother and father agree on paternity, they can sign an “Acknowledgment of Paternity.” This is often done at the hospital when the child is born.

• Involuntarily: If the parties involved have doubts or disagree who the father is, then one parent can file a paternity suit with the courts for the father to take a blood test to confirm their parental status. If the man doesn’t respond to the lawsuit, the courts can declare him to be the legal father.

For the child, establishing paternity is important for a number of reasons. Paternity establishment allows the child rights to inheritance, worker’s compensation (in the event of the father’s death on the job), dependent-based government assistance, access to personal information and the right to gain shelter from the father.

Custody Rights and Schedules

Parents can begin working to negotiate custody schedules and child support after paternity has been established. Unmarried parents in Texas have the same legal obligations that married or divorced parents do for their children. They will still need to go through the system to establish schedules, custody and child support arrangements.

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Delinquent Child Support and Visitation

Child support and visitation rights are considered separate issues by the courts of Texas. It is a common misunderstanding that the two are related. Withholding visitation from your ex could potentially have negative consequences with the court.It may not seem fair that your ex is able to see your children when they aren’t supporting them, but you are not completely without options.

A judge could decide to fine or jail the delinquent parent for “contempt of court” for disobeying the court order to pay child support. The court may also require the delinquent parent to pay part of the outstanding child support to be released from jail.

How the State of Texas Collects Past-Due Child Support

The Texas Child Support Division has a powerful set of legal and financial tools available to them to help them obtain payment from parents who are past due in child support. These tools might include:

• Working with other states to collect child support if the paying parent has moved out of the state of Texas.

• Suspending their driver’s license, as well as any professional licenses, certificates, fish and game licenses they may have.

• Intercepting lottery winnings, federal income tax refunds, and other state or federal money the parent may receive.

• Requiring the parent’s employer to deduct child support directly from their paycheck.

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Child support is usually granted to the “custodial” parent, or the parent who has legal custody of the child, and is paid by the “non-custodial parent,” or parent with whom the child does not primarily reside.

• Parent ordered to pay support is not making payments according to schedule and/or amount ordered

• Support payment is too low, due to promotion or other improvement of economic status of the paying parent

Non-custodial parent may go to court because:

• Support payment is now too high, due to loss of job or economic status

• Support is going to parent with whom child no longer primarily resides


If the parent ordered to pay child support fails to do so according to the requirements outlined in the divorce decree, the parent to whom payments are owed has the right to request enforcement of the divorce decree. Enforcement measures can be used to collect past-due and regularly-scheduled support payments.


The amount of support ordered at the time of divorce becomes an issue because the paying parent is no longer earning the kind of money they did when the divorce decree was initially finalized. A parent who finds that they can no longer afford the same amount of child support can request a reduction in the amount they must pay.


Either the custodial or non-custodial parent can formally request a modification, or change to the child support requirements established in the divorce decree, via a formal motion.

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Texas has a formula to determine the amount of child support the state “presumes” is in the child’s best interest. In a nutshell, child support in Texas is determined by figuring out the average net monthly resources of the paying parent and applying guidelines established by the Texas legislature that require paying a percentage of those average net monthly resources depending on how many children there are.

To determine the amount of monthly child support, apply the percentages below to the average monthly net resources (unless the child lives in more than one household in which case the calculations are different). For 2018, the maximum child support payment in Texas is capped at a percentage of $8,550.00 average net monthly resources. The cap on the maximum average net monthly resource amount will be adjusted every six years according to inflation. Next time it will be adjusted is September 2019. If the average net monthly resources is less than $8,550.00, the amount of child support is calculated as a percentage of the actual average net monthly resources.

  • One Child 20% of net resources
  • Two Children 25% of net resources
  • Three Children 30% of net resources
  • Four Children 35% of net resources
  • Five Children 40% of net resources
  • Six Children Not less than 40% of net resources

If the net monthly resources are more than $8,550.00 the amount of child support may be adjusted upward if the child’s proven needs are greater than the presumptive guidelines amount. A court may order one or both parents depending on their circumstances to pay the difference between the guideline amount and the child’s proven needs, but the judge cannot order more than the presumptive amount of child support or one hundred percent of the child’s proven needs, whichever is greater (unless of course the parents agree to that amount). If the child receives social security or disability benefits from the paying spouse’s old age social security or disability benefits, those amounts are subtracted from the total amount of child support required under the guidelines.

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