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TX child support lawyerProviding financially for a child’s basic needs is not only an important responsibility for parents, it is a legal obligation. When parents are divorced or unmarried, this obligation must be formalized in a child support order that typically requires one parent to make regular payments to the other. When the paying parent fails to fulfill their obligation, they may face a variety of serious consequences.

Penalties for Late Child Support Payments

In Texas, when a parent fails or refuses to make a scheduled child support payment, an enforcement action may be initiated by the receiving parent or the Texas Office of the Attorney General. Depending on the circumstances, the paying parent could face one or more of the following consequences:

  • An order to pay arrearages and interest - A parent who is delinquent on child support payments remains responsible for the full amount of past-due payments. Child support arrearages also accrue interest until they are repaid.
  • An order to pay the other parent’s attorney fees - When the receiving parent brings a child support enforcement action before the court, the delinquent parent can be ordered to pay the petitioning parent’s attorney fees and court costs.
  • Property liens - A lien may be placed on a delinquent parent’s real estate property, bank or retirement account, or other assets in order to enforce payment.
  • Credit consequences - Delinquent child support payments are reported to credit agencies, which may affect the parent’s ability to qualify for loans or credit cards. Unlike many other types of debt, child support arrearages cannot be discharged in bankruptcy.
  • License suspension - A delinquent parent may have their driver’s license suspended while child support is in arrears. Professional and recreational licenses may also be suspended.
  • Denied passport and/or vehicle registration - In some cases, child support delinquency can prevent a parent from applying for a new or renewed passport, or a renewed vehicle registration.
  • Contempt of court charges - A delinquent parent can be charged with civil or criminal contempt of court, depending on the circumstances, which may result in fines and even jail time.

Understanding Your Legal Options

If you are the receiving parent, an attorney can help you understand your options for recovering late child support payments, including by petitioning the court for enforcement if necessary. If you are the paying parent and you are concerned about your ability to fulfill your obligations, you may be able to work with an attorney to petition for a modification of the child support order to preemptively avoid an enforcement action. If you are subject to enforcement, an attorney may be able to help you resolve the situation before costly penalties are assessed.

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TX divorce lawyerIn Texas divorce cases, child support is often one of the most crucial issues that will need to be addressed. This support will ensure that children will have the financial resources to address their daily needs. However, parents may be unsure about exactly what is covered by child support and whether additional support may be ordered to provide for different types of expenses. By working with a family law attorney, parents can make sure issues related to child support are addressed correctly, and they can determine how they can best provide for their children’s needs.

Medical and Dental Support and Variances from Child Support Guidelines

In Texas divorce and family law cases, child support is calculated by multiplying the net resources of the obligor (the parent who will be paying child support) by a certain percentage that is based on the number of children being supported. Child support calculated using these guidelines is meant to cover children’s ongoing needs, including food, shelter, clothing, childcare, transportation, and extracurricular activities.

In addition to the amount of child support calculated using the guidelines provided in Texas law, parents will also be required to provide both medical support and dental support. A parent will be required to obtain health insurance and dental insurance coverage for children or pay the reasonable cost of coverage obtained by the other parent. Reasonable costs of medical insurance cannot exceed 9% of the obligor’s annual financial resources. Reasonable costs of dental insurance cannot exceed 1.5% of the obligor’s annual financial resources.

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TX family lawyerA divorce will involve multiple different types of financial issues, and child support is one of the key areas that will need to be addressed. These payments will ensure that a parent will be able to provide for children’s needs going forward. However, the amount of child support that is set at the time of a divorce may need to be adjusted at a later date if parents or children experience changes in their lives. Parents who are looking to make changes to these financial obligations will need to understand when child support modifications can be made and the process that will be followed when addressing these requests.

Situations Where Child Support Modifications May Be Warranted

There are a few different types of cases where a parent may ask to modify child support. Modifications may be made if:

  • At least three years have passed since the child support order was established, and calculating child support under the state guidelines based on the parties’ current circumstances would result in a difference of at least 20% or $100 from the amount that is currently being paid.
  • One or more of the parties involved in the case (including the parents or the children being supported) have experienced a “material and substantial change in circumstances.”

In most cases, modification requests will be based on a change in circumstances. These changes may include an increase or decrease in the income earned by the parent who pays child support, changes to children’s needs, or updates to children’s living arrangements.

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TX high asset lawyerDivorcing spouses will need to address many different legal and financial concerns when ending their marriage, and in many cases, a divorce case will become more complex when a couple has children. In addition to determining how they will share child custody, parents should also understand their child support obligations. In cases where a couple has a high net worth, parents may need to address additional financial issues when determining the amount of child support that will be paid.

Texas Child Support Guidelines

The state of Texas uses a straightforward “percentage of income” method to calculate a parent’s child support obligations. The parent who has the majority of the time with the children and is granted the right to decide where children will live is known as the custodial parent. The non-custodial parent will typically pay child support to the custodial parent. The amount of child support is calculated by taking a percentage of the non-custodial parent’s “net resources,” as follows:

  • One child: 20% of the non-custodial parent’s net resources
  • Two children: 25% of the non-custodial parent’s net resources
  • Three children: 30% of the non-custodial parent’s net resources
  • Four children: 35% of the non-custodial parent’s net resources
  • Five children: 40% of the non-custodial parent’s net resources
  • Six or more children: At least the amount that would be paid for five children

A non-custodial parent’s net resources are determined by taking the income they earn and subtracting federal and state income taxes, Social Security taxes, union dues, and amounts paid toward their children’s health insurance, dental insurance, and other medical expenses. In high net worth divorce cases, a parent’s income may not only include the wages they earn, but also interest and dividends on investments, income earned from rental properties, capital gains, income earned from trusts, annuities, pensions, retirement benefits, and gifts.

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TX divorce lawyerWhen parents in Austin decide to file for divorce and they have minor children together, the divorce process often gets more complicated. These complications tend to be even more amplified in high net worth divorces in Texas where the children attend expensive private schools and participate in high-priced extracurricular activities. For example, in and around Austin, many parents pay for their children to participate in a variety of sports, and kids may participate on travel sports teams that require additional expenses. Other kinds of extracurricular activities and hobbies can also be extremely expensive, from classical music lessons to equestrian sports.

Texas child support laws are streamlined based on a noncustodial parent’s average monthly net income, and they do not take into account the costly extracurricular activities and sports that are common for kids in high asset families, nor does Texas law allow a court to add onto a child support obligation for private school expenses. We will tell you more about how child support laws do work in Texas, and we will say more about how parents ultimately can ensure that their kids can remain in their current school and extracurricular activities despite the divorce.

Texas Courts Calculate Child Support Based on Income and Number of Children

Regardless of the income or assets of either parent in a Texas high net worth divorce case, the court will use the formula for calculating child support set by Texas law. Under the Texas Family Code, the following is the calculation that the court will use to determine the noncustodial parent’s child support obligation:

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