In Texas, divorce is unfortunately common. People who have decided that their marriage is no longer working will frequently decide to move on and start over. There are inherent challenges with this decision. One is how to handle children. Once child custody is determined, child support will come to the forefront.
The primary focus in a child support agreement is that the child’s best interests be served. That includes a safe place to live, proper nutrition, schooling and extracurricular activities. The support amount will be based on a state-mandated guideline. In some cases, a person would like to change the amount. This is a modification and there are rules for that to be done as well. In these circumstances, it is useful to understand the basics.
Understanding child support guidelines
The child support amount is based on how many children the couple has and the noncustodial parent’s net income. Net income is not the total amount the person earns, but how much he or she earns after expenses.
If there is one child, the noncustodial parent will pay 20% of the net income. It then goes as follows: for two children, it is 25%; three children, it is 30%; four children, it is 35%; and for five or more children, it is 40%. Even if the noncustodial parent does not have a job at the time the order is made, there will still need to be child support.
Modifying a child support order
Circumstances might warrant that the child support order be changed. For such a modification, there are fundamental requirements. If, for example, a person loses his or her job, the Office of the Attorney General needs to be informed. The mere fact that a person lost his or her job will not automatically change the child support order. There will need to be a new order.
In general, if there has been a substantial change in circumstances that render the original order obsolete, then the child support can be modified. It can also be changed if three years have elapsed from when the order was made or changed or if the amount of the current order differs by 20% or $100 from what the order would be if the current income was used in the assessment.
When the request is made because the noncustodial parent lost a job, the court will want proof that the person is actively looking for new work. People should not make the mistake of deciding on their own to reduce the amount or to stop paying entirely.
With child support concerns, it is essential to be firmly grounded in the law
With the recent national health situation, people have been impacted in myriad ways. Some couples who spent more time together than they previously did might have discovered that they were unhappy in their marriage. Lingering concerns that were present beforehand could have been exacerbated with people forced to work from home and having few leisure activities available. The tensions could lead to marriages coming apart.
In addition, people who were already divorced and had a child support agreement might have seen their incomes drop due to fewer hours available to work, a loss in commissions, a business decline or outright job loss. That could result in not having the available money to pay for the child support agreement as it stands.
With these factors, it is wise for those who need help with deciding on how much will be paid in child support to understand the guidelines. Those who would like a modification should be cognizant of the requirements for that to be changed whether it is from the perspective of the paying noncustodial parent or the receiving custodial parent.
To deal with these aspects of a family law case, it is imperative to understand that there are nuances to the law and trying to settle these matters without professional assistance tends to make it worse. Consulting with and having advice from those experienced in all areas of family law can be helpful to reach a satisfactory outcome.