Typically, child support is one of the most contentious issues between divorced or unmarried parents. Our Austin family law attorneys can assist you in strategically navigating child support. Beginning with the most fundamental aspect: who pays and how much?
Who is obliged to pay?
Both parents have a financial responsibility to provide for their child. It’s usually clear who the child’s mother is in most circumstances; it’s less evident who the child’s father is. In Texas, there a three avenues to establish paternity, as follows:
- One, a man is recognized as the child’s father if he signs an Acknowledgment of Paternity (AOP)
- Two, a man can authenticate paternity through court proceedings
- Finally, a child’s paternity is presumed to be the husband of the child’s mother at the time of birth
Paternity must be determined by one of the above avenues before a court will order a father to pay child support. Unfortunately, a child born to an unwed mother has no legal father unless an AOP is signed or paternity is alternatively established.
While it is true fathers generally are responsible for child support payments, this is not always the case. Texas courts generally abide by the guideline that the parent who does not have primary custody of a child or children has the obligation to make child support payments to the parent with primary custody.
How much are child support payments?
The Court adheres to general guidelines to determine the amount of child support a parent should pay. Of course, this is up to the judge’s discretion. The guidelines generally consider two primary factors of the non-custodial parent:
- their net income
- the number of children they’re supporting
Net income is the income of the non-custodial parent’s gross income after the following deductions:
- union dues, if any
- health insurance premiums and other medical expenses for the child, should the Court have ordered these expenses paid by the parent in question
- federal income tax
- Social Security taxes, or if the non-custodial parent doesn’t pay Social Security taxes, any mandatory retirement plan contributions
The resulting figure is divided by 12 to establish monthly net income that will help determine the monthly child support payments.
The Court will always focus on their central objective when determining child support payments: the child’s welfare. In doing so, the Court will also examine the following factors: education, medical & daycare expenses, and each parent’s financial resources.
Additionally, parents may mutually decide to veer away from the child support guidelines. Of course, a judge must approve, should they agree it is in the child’s best interest.
When does child support end?
Typically, child support will continue until one of the following events occur:
- the child is legally declared an adult by way of emancipation
- the child graduates from high school or reaches the age of 18 (whichever is the latter)
- the child marries
- termination of parental rights through adoption
The one primary exemption to these guidelines are disable children. In child support cases for disabled children, the Court may order the financial support to continue indefinitely.
Austin Family Law Attorneys
AZ Law Firm has experienced Austin family law attorneys to assist in establishing paternity and advise whether a court will uphold child support (if it is needed and is in the child’s best interest). Should new circumstances or new needs arise, we can also assist in modifying child support orders. Additionally, if the court-mandated child support payments are actively not met, we will help to enforce the current obligations. Give us a call or send us a message today to schedule your free initial consultation.
To find out how we can help you, contact an Divorce Lawyer Austin at 512-400-7070 or send us a message. We will schedule an initial client consultation to review your case details and lay out a game plan for your divorce in Texas. AZ Law Firm will pursue the legal action necessary to secure the fairest possible divorce for you and your loved ones.
- evaluating and explaining to you the pros and cons of your individual case
- discussing with you any available options and our proposed strategies as it relates to your case
- providing guidance and recommendations regarding any proposed settlement offer
- quickly and effectively communicating with you during each step of the process so that you are not left in the dark
- taking your case solely on a contingent fee basis
- and aggressively protecting and defending your rights
We understand times are tough and that there probably hasn’t been a tougher time in your life. Although we could get away with charging exuberant amounts, we prefer not to as we are a law firm by the people, for the people. We do not want you to worry about whether you can afford to hire an attorney to protect and defend your rights. Call us and be surprised at the quality you receive compared to what other law firms will quote you!
Accordingly, the attorneys at AZ Law Firm will always provide you with a free initial consultation. During this initial consultation, one of our divorce lawyer Austin team will evaluate your case, inform you of any legal options that may be available, and allow you to ask any questions that you may have. AZ Law Firm offers affordable rates for all our clients and will work with you on payment plans. Our firm accepts checks, debit cards, and most major credit cards to cover the costs of your legal representation.