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McKinney Child Support Lawyers
At Nordhaus Walpole, PLLC, we routinely represent parents with regard to establishing, enforcing and modifying child support in North Texas. We take a thorough and systematic approach that avoids calculation errors, and we use our extensive knowledge of Texas’s child support laws to ensure that our clients’ financial obligations are fair. Whether you are expecting to pay child support, are expecting to receive child support, or need help with a post-divorce or post-separation matter, our McKinney child support lawyers can guide you every step of the way and take any necessary legal action on your behalf.
Overview of Texas Child Support
In Texas, the basics of child support are relatively straightforward. The non-custodial parent pays child support to the custodial parent until each child turns 18 or graduates from high school, whichever occurs later, and the parents use an income-based formula to determine the non-custodial parent’s monthly payment obligation.
However, calculating child support – and establishing and enforcing child support obligations – is not necessarily a simple process. In order to determine the payor’s obligation, both spouses’ incomes need to calculated appropriately, and there are a variety of circumstances under which the standard formula may not apply. If you overlook a source of income, or if your spouse attempts to hide income, you may arrive at an inaccurate calculation, and modifying child support involves its own unique set of legal requirements.
Calculating Child Support in Texas
Texas’s statutory formula for child support uses a “net income” calculation. This involves adding up each spouse’s income from all sources (with a few exceptions) and then subtracting eligible expenses. After calculating each spouse’s net income, the parents must apply a percentage scale based on the number of children for which support is to be paid in order to arrive at the final calculation of each parent’s financial responsibility.
Sources of income that must be considered when calculating child support in Texas include:
- Salary or hourly wages
- Overtime pay
- Rental income
- Royalty income
- Trust income
- Retirement income
- Disability income
- Prizes, such as contests or lottery winnings
- Gifts from personal or professional contacts
- Alimony from any previous marriages
The expenses deducted in order to determine each parent’s “net income” include: Social Security taxes, federal income taxes, union dues, health insurance premiums and court-ordered payments for children’s medical expenses.
Modifying Payments with the Help of McKinney Child Support Lawyers
In Texas, child support orders can only be modified under limited circumstances. In order to file for a modification of child support, you must be able to demonstrate that a “material and substantial change” warrants revisiting your prior child support determination. Generally speaking, the Texas courts will consider requests for modification in cases involving:
- Loss of employment (but not intentional job loss in order to avoid paying child support);
- An increase in income which adjusts the amount of support by $100 or 20 percent per month;
- Incurring child support obligations for additional children; and,
- Military activation or deactivation.
If you are unable to meet your child support obligation, it is critical that you seek a modification in court. You should not simply stop paying or pay what you can. Failure to pay child support is a violation of a court order, and the penalties for non-payment of child support can be severe.
Enforcing Child Support Payments in Texas
If your former spouse or partner is not meeting his or her child support obligation, you can seek to enforce your right to payment in court. In Texas, the remedies for non-payment of child support include:
- Wage garnishment
- Seizure of assets
- Freezing of bank accounts
- Interception of tax refunds and lottery winnings
In appropriate circumstances, the Texas courts can impose additional penalties including: fines, jail time, driver’s license and passport suspension, professional license suspension, and loss of the privilege to carry a firearm.
When the Texas Child Support Guidelines Do Not Apply
While the “net income” formula applies in most cases, there are a variety of circumstances in which countervailing considerations will warrant a different child support calculation. Texas’s child support law states that the following factors (among others) should be considered in determining whether it would be “unjust or inappropriate under the circumstances” to apply the standard guidelines:
- The age and needs of the couple’s children;
- Each parent’s respective ability to pay;
- Each parent’s respective custody or visitation rights;
- Childcare expenses that either parent incurs in order to work;
- Company vehicles, company housing, and other job-related benefits;
- Alimony payments;
- Health insurance costs and uninsured medical expenses;
- Other “special or extraordinary expenses;”
- Debts owed by either parent; and,
- Any other considerations impacting the best interests of the couple’s children.
When you meet with one of our McKinney child support lawyers to discuss your situation, we will assess all of the relevant factors to determine whether the standard guidelines apply. If they do, we can assist you in calculating you and your spouse or partner’s net income in order to determine the amount of support that is owed. If the standard guidelines do not fit your personal and family circumstances, we can help you arrive at an appropriate child support obligation through amicable negotiations or, if necessary, in court.
Get the Truth About Texas Child Support
While Texas’s child support laws can be confusing, calculating child support does not have to be difficult. The more you know, the easier it will be to make informed decisions and provide your attorney with the information he or she needs in order to arrive at an accurate calculation. For more information about what to expect (and what not to expect) during your divorce or separation, we encourage you to read: Five Myths about Texas Child Support.
Speak With the McKinney Child Support Lawyers at Nordhaus Walpole, PLLC
If you would like more information about calculating, modifying or enforcing child support in Texas, please contact us to arrange a free, no-obligation consultation. One of our attorneys will be happy to meet with you personally to discuss your needs. To schedule an appointment at our offices in McKinney, please call (214) 726-1450 or tell us how we can help online today.