Deer Park Child Support Attorneys Seek Fair Resolutions
Compassionate assistance for parents throughout Harris County
Under Texas law, parents are obliged to provide tangible support for their children. When parents separate, divorce or live apart without ever having been married, child support payments are required. How much must be paid can depend on the individual circumstances as Texas law only provides basic guidelines and grants courts wide discretion. So, if you are in a child support dispute, as part of a divorce or paternity action, experienced legal counsel can help you pursue a fair order. At The Law Office of Shelly A. Merchant, our Deer Park child support attorneys have the knowledge to assert your rights and present relevant information in an effective manner.
What is the process for calculating child support in Texas?
Texas child support guidelines are based on the noncustodial parent’s monthly income minus allowable deductions, including FICA taxes, union dues, the child’s health insurance premiums and the noncustodial parent’s income tax obligations. The basic child support rate is set using a percentage of net income corresponding to the number of children to be supported, as follows:
- One child — 20 percent
- Two children — 25 percent
- Three children — 30 percent
- Four children — 35 percent
- Five children — 40 percent
- Six or more children — At least 40 percent
Thus, if a noncustodial parent makes $2,000 a month in net income and has two children, that parent would pay $500 a month to the other parent. However, this sum is subject to modification for various reasons, such as if the parents share residential custody. If the noncustodial parent actually has the children living with him/her for an extended period, the court would reduce the obligation in proportion to that amount of time.
The court also has the discretion to increase the obligation based on numerous factors, such as:
- Age and needs of the child(ren)
- The ability of each parent to the support of the child(ren)
- Additional financial resources available to support the child(ren)
- Child care expenses incurred by either party
- The amount of alimony being paid
- The children’s higher education costs
- Health insurance and medical expenses
- Special needs expenses
If the noncustodial parent is deliberately making less income, or is hiding income, to avoid paying additional child support, the court can impute an appropriate amount and hike the obligation.
Knowing the framework of Texas child support allows our Deer Park family law attorneys to reach appropriate settlement agreements through negotiation and mediation. When it is necessary to litigate the issue, we inform the court of all pertinent facts necessary to arrive at a fair resolution.
Modification and enforcement of child support
Child support orders must often be adjusted due to changed circumstances. Texas law allows you to petition the court for a modification if your circumstances or your child’s have changed “materially and substantially,” or three years have passed since the entry of the previous order and the conditions you’re raising would adjust your monthly obligation by at least 20 percent or $100. Changed circumstances the state recognizes as substantial include:
- Loss or change to income or employment
- Change in medical coverage
- A shift in the child(ren)’s primary residence
There are many enforcement mechanisms to compel support payments.
- Failure to pay child support is contempt of court, so a judge can order:
- Bank assets seized
- Wages garnished
- Tax refunds intercepted
- Driver’s licenses and professional licenses suspended
- Jail time
You should never stop child support payments due to a conflict with your ex. Nor should you make an informal agreement to pay less, because the court order is what matters and you can still be held to account for arrears at 6 percent interest. Instead, consult a child support attorney who can provide reliable advice.
Contact a skilled and concerned Harris County child support attorney
The Law Office of Shelly A. Merchant in Deer Park provides comprehensive representation to Texas parents on child support issues. To schedule a consultation, please call 281-817-0998 or contact us online.