Houston Child Support Lawyers
The Houston child support lawyers of Holmes, Diggs & Sadler are here to help you with any child support issues or questions you may have. For decades, we have been the go-to name for people who need quality legal representation for themselves and their family members in Houston. We’re ready to help you, so call us today.
When parents separate, the individual retaining primary custody of the children may be owed a certain amount of money for their care and well-being. This child support is a fixed figure initially determined by the courts. In the state of Texas, the courts will consult support guidelines to calculate the monetary value of a child support order, taking into account factors such as the parents’ respective incomes, the number of children the primary custodian is caring for, and what the other parent can reasonably provide given his or her financial situation.
Although this may seem cut and dry, contacting an attorney to make sure that you are not being awarded too little in child support can protect you and your children’s future. Moreover, if you are the parent who will likely be ordered to pay child support, you should contact an attorney to make sure that your income and expenditures are being accurately reflected as the Attorney General makes their assessments and recommendations for your monthly obligation. Protect your interests, whatever they may be, by contacting Holmes, Diggs & Sadler today at (713) 802-1777 to schedule a consultation and discuss your finances, expectations, and rights.
Calculating Child Support Amounts
Child support figures in Texas generally follow several major guidelines unless there are outstanding circumstances that warrant changes. The amount a parent may receive largely depends on his or her financial needs, meaning that most forms of income will be considered in the process of determining support amounts, including wages, benefits, and stock dividends.
The following are some of the person’s primary financial obligations that are then deducted from this gross income:
- Federal income taxes for one person with one personal deduction plus the standard deduction
- Social Security withholdings
- The premium expenses of a child’s medical insurance
When this amount is divided into net monthly resources, a parent may expect to receive the following percentage of that figure in child support:
- 20% for one child
- 25% for two children
- 30% for three children
- 35% for four children
- 40% for five children
- Not under 40% for six or more children
This amount is capped and may then be adjusted depending on the exact circumstances of both parents’ finances.
Frequently Asked Questions
At Holmes, Diggs & Sadler, we know that dealing with child support issues can be a frustrating and confusing experience. We have compiled and answered some of the questions that we are most frequently asked. If you have any further inquiries or need more information, please don’t hesitate to give us a call at (713) 802-1777.
My spouse and I agreed to a certain child support agreement before marriage and before having children. Is that okay?
No. While premarital agreements (or prenuptial agreements) can cover a lot of questions that would otherwise be addressed in a divorce, any agreements regarding child support are not valid. This is based on the Texas Family Code and general public policy.
The parent of my child has agreed to accept cash payments in lieu of going through a formal order process and wage withholding—is that okay?
While it is okay, it is not ideal, and it is not recommended. Why? If you are the party that has been ordered to pay child support, you are setting yourself up for potential dispute about whether payments were actually made. Furthermore, if any order has been put into place regarding custody and support, the order likely states that informal payments are not considered valid and will not count toward reducing arrears or as completion of your monthly support obligation.
Likewise, if you are the recipient of child support, it is best to follow your orders or encourage formal orders rather than an informal arrangement. You will open yourself to less argument and less hassle if you follow a formal agreement and disbursement process as opposed to a cash agreement that could be disputed by the parent of your child.
Do I have to have to be (or have been) married to the parent of my child in order to obtain child support?
No. Whether you have been married to the parent of your child or you were just together one time, you are eligible to receive child support. It is the responsibility of both parents to support and raise their child(ren), and the state will ensure that support is ordered whether or not the parents have been married.
How long does child support last?
Very broadly speaking, child support typically lasts until the child is 18 years old or until they graduate high school, whichever occurs later. However, there is an exception for children who have disabilities. When a disability exists, support will be ordered for a longer period of time if they cannot live alone or support themselves. Because there are nuanced elements to these kinds of cases, it is wise to speak with an attorney about your situation to assess what your rights are in requesting or being ordered to pay child support.
What is retroactive child support?
Retroactive child support is child support that covers a period of time when the parent of your child was not financially caring for your child. This is often seen in cases where married parents are separated, not yet divorced, or filing for divorce, and the nonpossessory parent is not financially supporting their child. Any child support ordered will usually include both the financial obligation for the future and the obligation that was not paid for in the past.
Does child support always have to be ordered? What if we have absolutely equal custody? Does one of us HAVE to pay?
In rare cases where both parents have a very amicable relationship and have relatively equal rights toward the child, it is possible to have no child support ordered to or from either parent. While no order will create absolutely equal parental rights, some orders can set practically equitable rights to both parents, allowing for a financial obligation of “zero” being ordered by the Attorney General.
What are arrears?
Arrears are child support payments that have been ordered but have not been paid. Arrears can grow and, as a result, can lead to enforcement actions being filed to have the arrears paid off. An enforcement order will also delineate between a monthly “current” child support obligation and an “arrears” child support obligation to pay off the debt. Arrears can have interest added to them when computing the monthly arrears payment amount.
Nonpayment of child support and nonpayment of arrears can lead to several consequences. Some of these include suspension of your driver’s license, suspension of your hunting license, suspension of any professional licenses, and even jail time.
My child is 18 years old—can they file for child support?
If child support has never been ordered in the past, your 18-year-old child cannot file for support of any sort—retroactive or otherwise. However, if child support has been ordered and arrears exist, the child can file for enforcement against the parent who owes the debt. The 18-year-old child can also have the support ordered to be paid directly to them as opposed to the parent who was receiving payments on their behalf.
These are hardly all of the questions we receive on child support, and if it is not already evident, child support is a complex legal issue. Trying to handle a child support issue on your own or trusting the Attorney General to get it right every time is a somewhat risky gambit. Contacting an attorney from Holmes, Diggs & Sadler to assess your case, provide a second pair of eyes on the issue, and figure out your rights is a good route to take to ensure you and your child(ren)’s best interests are provided for.
If you are facing a child support case, you will want experienced legal assistance and representation when working through this frustrating and often complicated legal process. Our skilled legal advisors are more than capable and willing to give you the legal support and confidence you need to handle your child support case. For more information about our family law services, contact the Houston child custody lawyers of Holmes, Diggs & Sadler at (713) 802-1777 today. Together we can develop the best strategy for your case and make sure you obtain the best results possible for you and your family.