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When going through a divorce, child support is one of the many things needed to get resolved. Generally, child support expenses are for the ordinary expenses of food, shelter, clothing, education, and medications needs for the children only. Other expenses that child support entails will be found down below.
Which parent pays child support?
Generally, the parent that has less possession time with the child (or children) pays child support. The parent who pays support is referred to as the “obligor.” Child support is determined based on a percentage of the noncustodial parent’s income. Deciding who pays child support can get a bit more complicated when the parents equally share physical custody of a child. In equal or split custody cases, child support is typically handled one of two ways: either neither party pays child support, or the court calculates what each party would pay to the other parent for child support, and the higher-earning parent pays the difference of those two calculations to the lower-earning parent.
In addition to child support, medical support, and any other financial agreements of the parents, each parent is also financially responsible for the child while the child is in their care.
Child support accountability
The parent receiving child support, or the “obligee,” is not required to account to the obligor how child support money is used. Each parent has to provide adequate housing, food, clothing, and other necessities while the child is in their care, and the parent is free to use money received as child support in any way they see fit.
Additional court-ordered payments
Medical care (Including uninsured medical expenses): Parents are required to carry some form of health insurance for their children, either through private insurance or, if qualified, through Medicaid. Typically, the parent ordered to pay child support will also be ordered to provide health insurance or reimburse the other parent for the cost of the health insurance premium for insuring the child for both medical and dental insurance. In addition to health and dental insurance premiums, the parents typically each pay one-half of all unreimbursed medical expenses. Some of these expenses include:
- Dental braces
- Other out of pocket health, dental, and vision care costs
Does joint custody mean that neither parent has to pay child support?
Joint legal custody gives the right to both parents to make decisions on behalf of the child, such as the child’s health, education, and religion. Both parents usually have equal access to the child’s educational and health records. However, child support is a separate issue from legal custody. In Texas, this is called Joint Managing Conservators, not joint custody.
Can parents agree on an amount for child support?
Parents can agree to a different amount of child support, or they may even agree that child support isn’t needed. However, whether this is a legally advisable decision is something that should be carefully discussed with your attorney.
What if there needs to be a modification to the child support order?
If you need to change a child support order, you may do so by filing a modification case. Either parent will have access to do so, but if you aren’t the parent of the child or children, you are able to file a modification case if:
- You are listed as a party in the current order; or
- You’ve had actual care, control, and possession of the child/children for at least 6 months ending more than 90 days before the date the modification case was filed with the court and that person isn’t a foster parent; or
- You’re the child’s grandparents, great-parent, sibling, aunt, uncle, niece or nephew and :
- Both parents are dead; or
- Both parents, the surviving parent or managing conservator; or
- The child’s present circumstance will significantly harm the child’s physical health or emotional development.
- You have lived with the child and the child’s parent, guardian, or conservator for a minimum of 6 months ending not more than 90 months before the date you file the modification case, and the child’s parent, guardian, or conservator has died.
What happens if my ex is withholding child support?
A parent has an obligation to pay for child support and medical support in Texas until the child graduates from high school (taking into consideration that the student has met the enrollment and attendance requirement) or turns eighteen, whichever is later. However, if a parent is withholding child support, the judge can enforce the child support order in Texas by holding him or her in contempt, including possible jail time. Courts routinely order income withholding from the obligor’s employer and have the power to suspend the driver’s license or professional licenses of an obligor. A parent has no right to withhold child support because they disapprove of the way the custodial parent uses the money. Conversely, the obligee does not have the right to withhold the obligor from having possession of the child, if the obligor is behind in child support.
How can The Carlson Law Firm help?
Here at The Carlson Law Firm, we understand that divorce and custody disputes are stressful for a family. However, experienced family law attorneys can help you understand your rights, responsibilities with child support expenses, and legal options. If you need help with child support, contact our office today. We offer free consultations and offer our family services in:
- Bell County
Our family attorneys are here to serve you and your family’s needs. We care and we can help.