Helping Families Since 1992
Richmond, TX Child Support Lawyers
Representing Parents since 1992
One of the issues that must be resolved in any divorce or between unmarried parents is child support. Like other states, Texas has established child support guidelines comprising a fee schedule that calculates the amount of support required. If you need help obtaining, contesting, or otherwise resolving a child support matter, the Law Firm of Johnson & Gaskill, PLLC is here to help.
Our Richmond, TX child support attorneys have a comprehensive understanding of how courts handle this issue initially and when modifications are needed. We have helped thousands of parents with child support cases during our decades of practice dedicated to family law in Fort Bend County.
How Do You Calculate Child Support in Texas?
In most cases, the non-custodial parent is the one to pay child support. Support payments are based on a percentage of a parent’s net income after specific deductions are taken.
Net income includes:
- Government benefits
- Retirement benefits
Other factors that determine a child support award include the number of children requiring support, the number of children supported from a previous relationship, and whether the paying parent is also obligated to pay alimony.
If the amount of support calculated is not fair to the paying parent, he or she may challenge the amount but will have to provide evidence to the court to obtain an adjustment. In these cases, the court has the authority to adjust the payments up or down to reflect a more equitable arrangement. Keep in mind that courts cannot order payments that exceed 50-65% of a non-custodial parent’s income.
What does child support cover?
Child support is intended to meet the basic needs of a child after their parents separate or divorce. This includes his or her four walls - food, utilities, shelter, and transportation.
In some cases, child support can also cover less common expenses, such as:
- Extracurricular activities
- Medical care
- Educational fees and tuition
A court order for child support may not always cover all circumstances. In some cases, parents will need to work together to come up with an agreement on how each parent will contribute to the additional expenses that arise in their mutual child’s life.
How Do You Modify Child Support?
If it’s one thing that is a constant in families, it’s that things change. If a court ordered child support in your divorce or paternity case and now circumstances have changed substantially, a child support modification may be in order.
Modifications are often requested after significant events, such as when the parent remarries, loses a job, or relocates. Courts exercise broad discretion in modification requests. To successfully amend a child support order, you will have to prove that there is a serious need for the change.
What types of changes warrant a child support modification (reduction or increase)? Generally, a court may modify child support when there has been a significant change in financial circumstances since the last child support order was made. Or, child support can be modified when there has been a change in child custody. For example, when the child moves in with the noncustodial parent and he or she assumes primary custody.
What if I Can’t See My Kids?
In Texas, parents have to financially support their children until they turn 18, or graduate high school, whichever occurs later. If the other parent is not letting you see your children during your court-ordered parenting time, you cannot stop paying child support. Child support and child custody are two separate matters. To enforce your right to see your children, you will need to take your ex to court.
If you stop paying child support for any reason, for example, because you lost your job, you went on workers’ compensation, or because your ex isn’t letting you see your kids, your child support obligation will continue to accrue.
You cannot change your monthly support obligation unless a court changes it. Also, child support is not retroactive. So, whenever you experience a significant change in circumstances that will continue, it’s essential to promptly go back to court and request a downward modification.
You may be eligible to have your child support obligation reduced if one or more of the following is true:
- The existing child support order was established three or more years ago;
- Your current monthly obligation would differ by $100 or 20% from the amount that would be ordered under the state’s child support guidelines; or
- There has been a substantial change in circumstances since the current child support order was made.
Examples of a “substantial change in circumstances” include the noncustodial parent’s income has changed, the noncustodial parent is now legally responsible for more children, the children have moved in with a different parent, or there has been a change in the children’s medical insurance.
Talk to a Seasoned Attorney about Your Case
Whatever facet of a child support issue you are facing, the Law Firm of Johnson & Gaskill PLLC can provide the reliable and trusted legal assistance you need. We work to maintain realistic expectations while diligently pursuing the results you are seeking.
Further reading: Unmarried Fathers’ Rights in Texas
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