You’ve decided to split up with your partner. While you know it’s the right decision, one major factor makes the split much more complicated: you have children together. Along with navigating being co-parents, you’re wondering about how custody agreements have a bearing on child support. Does the noncustodial parent pay it? What about if you have joint custody? By learning more about child custody and support, you can be prepared for what lies ahead.
Boudreaux Hunter & Associates, LLC in Houston, Texas are certified in mediation, take a collaborative approach with their clients to ensure that their clients reach solutions that work for their families, and are devoted entirely to the practice of family law. We are fierce advocates for our clients and we’d be happy to assist you with child custody and child support. Reach out to us today for an initial consultation.
Custody Agreements and Child Support in Texas
In the state of Texas, usually the noncustodial parent will pay child support. The noncustodial parent is the parent who spends the least amount of time with the children. This parent is also called the “obliger” for child support. It’s presumed that the custodial parent, most of the time, will be paying for the children’s daily expenses.
The amount of child support the noncustodial parent pays is based on their gross income from all sources. The income includes things like:
- All wages and salaries including bonuses and tips
- Interest and dividends earned
- Self-employment income
- Net rental income from property you own
- Veterans’ benefits
- Unemployment benefits
- Retirement benefits
- Severance pay
As you can see, even if you are unemployed, child support can be taken from your unemployment benefits. Typically, in Texas, you will pay 20% of your net monthly resources in child support if you have one child, 25% if you have two, 30% if you have three, 35% if you have four, and 40% if you have five or more.
Keep in mind that in addition to paying child support, expenses like the cost of health and/or dental insurance, past due or back child support, or retroactive child support, which is support from parents’ separation until the court makes orders, can be withheld from a paycheck.
How to Pay Child Support
You’ll need to pay child support through the Texas Child Support Disbursement Unit (SDU) before the payment is sent to your ex. This is because payments must be recorded with the SDU.
How Long Do You Have to Pay Child Support?
The noncustodial parent will have to pay child support until the children turn 18 or graduate from high school – whichever comes later. However, if a child is disabled, a parent may need to pay for longer. If a parent is behind on their payments, they will need to pay the back child support along with any interest that has built up, even if the child turned 18.
How to Modify a Child Support Agreement
If you’re paying child support, you may wish to modify the amount at some point. There are a few different circumstances that allow you to change it. If your income changes significantly – for instance, you lose your job – then you can request a modification. If you and your co-parent agree on a change, then you can modify the child support order in that scenario, too. Additionally, if three years have gone by since a judge signed an order for child support, you’ll be able to modify it.
Make sure that you don’t just stop making your child support payments. Even if you lose your job and you can’t afford the entire payment, pay as much as you can and be in touch with your co-parent about what happened. You need to show that you’re trying to be as responsible as possible but you’re struggling at the moment. If you stop paying, the court won’t look at you favorably.
You should also be in touch with your family law attorney as soon as the change occurs. They can help you modify your child support order.
What Happens If You Stop Paying Child Support?
Let’s say you decide to stop paying child support. Perhaps you got into a fight with your ex or you’re struggling so much that you just can’t afford it.
No matter what’s happening, it’s always a bad idea to just stop paying. Aside from possibly going to jail, you could:
- Have your wages garnished
- Have your driver’s license, professional licenses, and fish-and-game licenses suspended
- Have your federal income tax refunds confiscated
- Have liens filed against your properties and other assets
If you leave the state of Texas, you could face consequences in your new place of residence as well. It’s just not worth it to stop paying.
You also have to keep in mind how not paying could affect your relationship with your children. Your ex may tell them negative things about you at the very least. You don’t want to risk hurting your relationships, so it’s best to consult with a lawyer as soon as any issues arise.
Establishing Child Support With the Help of a Lawyer
It’s best to work out any problems with child support or child custody right when you and your ex decide to split up. If you do it later, you may be subject to an order that you believe isn’t fair.
It’s always a good idea to consult with a family law attorney when you’re working on child support and child custody. They will advocate for you and ensure that the agreement will work for you as well. Of course, just like the court, they will keep the best interests of your children in mind. Just because you and your ex have decided not to be together anymore, it doesn’t mean that your children should suffer as a consequence.
Contact Boudreaux Hunter & Associates, LLC
If you need help with child custody and child support issues, you can reach out to Boudreaux Hunter & Associates, LLC for help. We’ll work hard on your child custody issues and child support issues and be your source of support in your time of need. Make sure you get in touch online or by calling us at (713) 333-4430. We look forward to helping you.
Attorney Kevin Hunter at Boudreaux Hunter & Associates, LLC has experience with child custody, spousal support, high conflict divorce, and is fully equipped to guide you through the process.