Home  >  Archive by category "Child support and custody"

Child Support Enforcement during COVID-19

At Holmes, Diggs & Sadler, we understand the essential nature of receiving child support, especially during the worldwide spread of the 2019 Novel Coronavirus (otherwise known as COVID-19). We know and understand that many of you have concerns during this difficult time and we are here to help guide you through it.

I have not been receiving child support from the other parent. What are my options?

If you are not receiving court ordered child support, there are several ways to motivate the other parent to comply with the order through a Suit to Enforce Child Support. Tex. Fam. Code Ann. § 157.001. In an enforcement proceeding, the Court may impose various penalties against the non-complying parent through incarceration, community supervision, payment of a fine, confirmation of child support arrearages, child support lien, levy on financial institutions, and/or license suspensions pursuant to Texas Family Code section 157.003.

An obligee (the party receiving child support) seeking to enforce a child support order should keep in mind, there is a possibility an obligor (the party ordered to pay child support) may seek to modify the amount of child support they are ordered to pay. See “How can I reduce my child support?” for more information.

How do I file Suit to Enforce Child Support?

You may file an Enforcement action, to collect the monies owed from child support, against the other parent through the Office of the Attorney General (OAG) or through a private attorney.

While filing through the OAG is free, it usually takes longer for your case to be heard than if you were to file an enforcement suit through a private attorney. Furthermore, if you choose to file an enforcement suit through the OAG, it is extremely important to note that the OAG represents the state of Texas. Therefore, your wants and needs may get overlooked depending on the OAG’s goal in your case. On the contrary, a private attorney is able to customize the Suit to Enforce Child Support in order to meet your needs and goals and to give you immediate help collecting the child support owed to you

If you are having a difficult time receiving child support, the lawyers at Holmes, Diggs & Sadler are here to get you and your child the help needed.

My ex is trying to reduce the amount of child support he or she pays during COVID-19. What can I do?

With so many Texans out of work or experiencing a decrease in hours and pay in light of Coronavirus (COVID-19), many individuals my seek modification of their child support order. The Texas Family Code provides, if “the circumstances of [a] child or a person affected by the order [to pay child support] have materially and substantially changed” since the order was entered, then the court may modify a child support order. Tex. Fam. Code Ann. § 156.401(a)(1). The amount of child support may also be modified if it has been more than three years since the child support order was entered or if the “monthly amount of the child support award under the order differs by either twenty percent (20%) or $100 from the amount that would be awarded in accordance with the child support guidelines.” Id. § 156.401(a)(2)

Job loss and a significant decrease in pay are considered a “material and substantial” change in circumstances that would allow a court to modify a child support order. Your ex may petition the court to modify his/her monthly child support obligation. Modifications or adjustments of child support do not occur automatically—one party must file a petition with the court in order to effect the change.

If your ex does file a modification, it is important to seek help from the OAG or from a private attorney to ensure your spouse is calculating his/her new income correctly. Child support is calculated based on a percentage of an obligor’s (the person paying child support) “net resources,” as defined by the Texas Family Code. Included in this calculation is all wages, salary, tips, bonuses, and self-employment income. Tex. Fam. Code Ann. § 154.062(b). Importantly, also included in calculating child support is any severance pay and any unemployment benefits received. Id. § 154.062(b)(5). A certain amount of state and federal income taxes, as well as expenses for the cost of health insurance and dental insurance, is deducted from the calculated income to determine the obligor’s “net resources.”

If your ex files, it is important to request the proper documentation from him/her to calculate the amount of support your children are entitled. The lawyers at Holmes, Diggs & Sadler are standing by ready to guide you through the process. Our office can be reached at (713) 802-1777. You may schedule a consultation, immediately, to meet with an attorney by telephone, Skype, FaceTime, or other remote means during this time.


Coronavirus (COVID-19) and Child Support in Texas

Contributors: Zachary Wilson, Hee Jin Chang, Katelynn Armijo and Bret Bosker

The worldwide spread of the 2019 Novel Coronavirus (otherwise known as COVID-19) has disrupted the normal day-to-day life for just about everyone. With the number of cases rapidly rising in the U.S., Texans are being forced to adjust to a “new normal.” Directives from President Trump, orders from Governor Abbott, and orders from countless local jurisdictions in Texas have forced many businesses and employers to temporarily shut down, decrease employees’ hours, and even lay off workers. The number of people filing for unemployment in Texas, as of March 23, 2020, jumped to a staggering 155,657 individuals—representing an 860% increase from the previous week. To get an idea about just how high that number is, last year an average of about 13,600 Texans filed for unemployment benefits each week. Unfortunately, it appears that those numbers are going to continue to increase.

I lost my job because of Coronavirus (COVID-19), can I decrease my child support?

With tens of thousands of Texans out of work or experiencing a decrease in hours and pay, many are left wondering how they are going to be able to continue paying their court-ordered child support. The Texas Family Code provides, if “the circumstances of [a] child or a person affected by the order [to pay child support] have materially and substantially changed” since the order was entered, then the court may modify a child support order. Tex. Fam. Code Ann. § 156.401(a)(1). The amount of child support may also be modified if it has been more than three years since the child support order was entered or if the “monthly amount of the child support award under the order differs by either twenty percent (20%) or $100 from the amount that would be awarded in accordance with the child support guidelines.” Id. § 156.401(a)(2).

Both job loss and a significant decrease in pay are considered a “material and substantial” change in circumstances that would allow a court to modify a child support order. If you have experienced either of these situations as a result of Coronavirus (COVID-19), you may petition the court to modify your monthly child support obligation. Modifications or adjustments of child support do not occur automatically—one party must file a petition with the court in order to effect the change.

A modification of a current order resulting from the loss of employment or furlough can be obtained through the Attorney General’s office, or through the use of a private attorney. See “How can I reduce my child support?” for more information.

How is child support calculated?

Child support is calculated based on a percentage of an obligor’s (the person paying child support) “net resources,” as defined by the Texas Family Code. Included in this calculation is all wages, salary, tips, bonuses, and self-employment income. Tex. Fam. Code Ann. § 154.062(b). Importantly, also included in calculating child support is any severance pay and any unemployment benefits received. Id. § 154.062(b)(5). A certain amount of state and federal income taxes, as well as expenses for the cost of health insurance and dental insurance, is deducted from the calculated income to determine the obligor’s “net resources.”

Then, depending on how many children the obligor has, the child support guidelines mandate a percentage that is applied to the obligor’s net resources, resulting in that person’s monthly child support obligation. Id. § 154.125. There are caps on the maximum amount of child support payable under the guidelines; however, those maximums can be exceeded in certain uncommon situations, depending on the proven needs of the child.

When you are attempting to modify your child support payments, be prepared to supply your attorney, or the Attorney General, with proof of any unemployment benefits you receive, severance you received, and information relating to the salary you made prior to unemployment.

How can I reduce my child support to address the Coronavirus (COVID-19)?

Following job loss or a significant reduction in hours and pay, it is important to act quickly in order to reduce your monthly child support obligation. One way to get this process started is to submit a Request for Review to the Child Support Division of the Office of the Attorney General. A much quicker way to accomplish this is to meet with a private attorney to discuss filing a Petition to Modify. It is important to bring your most recent earnings information, as well as a copy of your current child support order, to your meeting with an attorney. Most recent earnings information includes a copy of your latest W-2 or 1099, your most recent tax return, and your last several paychecks. If you receive a notice from your employer regarding your lay off or reduction in hours and/or wages, you should bring a copy of that document to your meeting with an attorney as well.

It is important to note that an informal agreement between parents to modify child support will not effectively change the monthly child support obligation. In order to properly modify your child support obligation, you must obtain an order from the court.

How soon will a child support modification go into effect?

There is no set timeline for how soon a child support modification will go into effect, but the sooner that you act, the quicker that the change can happen. A modification of child support can be made retroactive, but not all the way back to the day of the job loss or reduction in pay. The modification can be retroactive back to the time that the other party is served with the lawsuit. The Texas Family Code states, “A support order may be modified with regard to the amount of support ordered only as to obligations accruing after the earlier of: (1) the date of service of citation; or (2) an appearance in the suit to modify.” Tex. Fam. Code Ann. § 156.401(b). Therefore, it is very important to meet with an attorney and take the necessary steps to file a Petition to Modify as soon as possible. This will allow the modification of child support to be retroactively applied to the earliest date possible. Even with the courts currently only hearing limited proceedings, you can ask that the change be made effective retroactively.

If you have experienced job loss or a reduction in pay due to the spread of Coronavirus (COVID-19), or if you are ready to have an attorney evaluate your current child support obligation, the lawyers at Holmes, Diggs & Sadler are standing by ready to guide you through the process. Our office can be reached at (713) 802-1777. You may schedule a consultation, immediately, to meet with an attorney by telephone, Skype, FaceTime, or other remote means during this time.


Mother of Dwight Howard’s child suing him for unpaid child support

Houston Rockets player Dwight Howard has been sued by the mother of one of his babies due to his failure to pay child support, the New York Daily News reported on June 10.

According to the court documents filed by a woman identified only as “Tiffany,” the basketball star has recently been failing to meet his financial obligations by giving just half of the $10,000 monthly child support payment they agreed on in 2013. The woman is also requesting higher child support payments, as she says their 4-year-old child now has to deal with issues related to being a child of a celebrity.

Fighting for child support means taking care of the financial future of your kids. The team at Holmes, Diggs & Sadler, understands how crucial child support is for the financial security and welfare of your children. Our Houston attorneys may be able to help you enforce child support agreements, or file to increase payments. Call us at (713) 802-1777 for an initial assessment of your case today.


Chris Brown allegedly refusing to pay child support

Reports have revealed that recording artist Chris Brown is currently embroiled in a child support dispute with his ex, former model Nia Guzman, The Daily Mail reported on May 25.

According to reports, Chris has refused to pay Nia $2,500 a month in child support since March for their 11-month-old daughter, named Royalty. Sources said Chris refused to pay after Nia demanded a much higher child support payment of $15,000 a month.

Last weekend, Chris Brown took his daughter to the Billboard Music Awards as his special date.

Child support is one aspect of the divorce process that could directly affect the welfare of your children. Seek the legal expertise of our team of child support lawyers at Holmes, Diggs & Sadler, who may advocate on behalf of your rights and interests as you work for the best future possible for your child. Learn more by calling our Houston offices at (713) 802-1777 today.


New law aims to help fathers paying child support to children who are not theirs

A new law has been passed to help fathers who are paying child support to children who are not biologically theirs.

Statistically, nearly 128,000 men in Texas are currently in this situation. For instance, one man in Harris County is paying $1,400 a month for two children who are not his, according to DNA testing.

In previous years, if a father was ordered to pay child support but later found that the child was not his biologically, he was still legally required to pay as this was in the best interest of the child.

However, the new law gives men the opportunity to petition courts in order to resolve this issue. The deadline for a man to seek DNA proof of paternity was set at Sept. 1. People can still petition the court at a later date only if they discovered within the past year that they are making payments to children who are not theirs.

If you or a loved one is having difficulties with child support payments, contact the Houston child custody lawyers of Holmes, Diggs & Sadler today by calling 713-802-1777.

Our Office Location

Holmes, Diggs & Sadler
5300 Memorial Dr #900
Houston, TX 77007
Phone: (713) 802-1777
Directions

Can We Help You?