Child Support Attorney in Houston, Texas

Child support is mandated by the state of Texas to ensure the welfare of children when parents separate or divorce or when the parents have never married and live apart. This financial support is calculated according to state guidelines and considered to be the right of the child as opposed to the desires of either parent. While the guidelines are fairly clear-cut, they can be complicated when it comes to determining the net income of a parent. 

If you are facing a child support issue, whether it involves support being determined for a pending divorce, a modification of a current support order, or enforcement of a child support order that is being violated, you can turn to Cy Lee Legal Group PLLC. Our team has a long history of resolving Texas family law issues for those in Houston and the surrounding areas. We can help you ensure your payment agreement is fair and just, based on the court’s overriding principle of serving the child’s best interests.  

Reach out to Cy Lee Legal Group PLLC to book a confidential consultation with a Houston child support attorney by connecting with us via email or by phone. We serve clients in Spanish, Chinese, and Arabic. 

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How Is Child Support Determined?

In Texas, the amount of child support is primarily determined based on the net income of the obligor (the parent who must pay child support) and the number of children the obligor has a duty to support. The net resources include all types of income, such as wages, commissions, overtime pay, tips, and bonuses. Once the net monthly income is calculated, a certain percentage is applied to it. The percentage varies depending on the number of children to be supported.  

For instance, if a parent's net monthly income is $5,000, and they have one child to support, they would pay 20% of their income, which is $1,000 per month. The guidelines are outlined in Texas law, but adjustments can be made based on the best interests of the child, which may include considerations of the child's age and needs, the parents' financial situation, and the child's standard of living before the parents' separation or divorce. 

The Attorney General’s Office provides a monthly child support calculator that can be used to help parents determine their support payment. This tool is useful for parents who have only one source of income. For those with multiple sources of income, including those that include commissions, tips, bonuses, self-employment, overtime, rental income, retirement benefits, dividends, interest, and other income-generating sources, the calculation can become complicated.  

Deviations From Calculated Amounts

In some cases, you may believe the amount calculated to be unfair or inappropriate. In these cases, the court will review all of the relevant facts and circumstances to determine a fair amount. Justifications for deviations from the calculated child support amounts are made at the discretion of the court, based on several factors that significantly impact the child's well-being.

These factors include (but are not limited to): 

  • Change in Income: A substantial change in either parent's income can be a reason for deviating from the standard calculation. If the obligor's income significantly increases or decreases, the court might adjust the child support amount accordingly. 

  • Special Needs: If the child has special needs, such as physical, emotional, or educational needs that require additional financial support, the court may deviate from the standard calculations to ensure those needs are met. 

  • Cost of Living: If the cost of living in the child's primary residence is significantly higher than average, the court may adjust the child support payments.  

  • Age of the Child: The age of the child can also be a factor. For instance, older children might have higher expenses related to education or activities. 

  • Child's Standard of Living: If the standard of living the child experienced prior to the parents' separation or divorce was significantly higher than what the standard guideline would allow, the court may order higher payments to maintain this standard. 

  • Parenting Time: The amount of time the child spends with each parent can also impact the child support calculations. If the obligor spends a significant amount of time with the child, the court may decrease the child support payments. 

  • Other Support Obligations: If the obligor has other children to support, the court may adjust the payments. 

Parents may also agree between themselves on an amount that is higher than the calculated amount. However, you can’t agree on an amount that is less than the calculated amount without the court’s approval. Courts will only approve support agreements that they determine to be best for the child.  

Imputed Income 

In certain cases, a parent's income may be imputed, meaning it's based on their potential earnings rather than their actual income. This usually happens when a parent is voluntarily unemployed or underemployed. If you believe the other parent is intentionally dodging their financial obligations, we can help you present evidence to the court to impute income. 

Modifying an Existing Arrangement 

Life is unpredictable, and sometimes it becomes necessary to modify an existing child support arrangement. Whether you're seeking an increase or decrease in child support, we can guide you through the legal process. We'll help you gather the necessary evidence and present a compelling case to the court to support your request for modification. 

Termination of Child Support 

In Texas, child support generally ends when the child reaches the age of 18 or graduates from high school, whichever occurs later. However, there are exceptions to this rule. For instance, if the child is disabled, the court may order the continuation of child support beyond the age of 18. It is also essential to note that child support arrears, or past-due payments, still need to be paid even after the legal obligation to pay current child support ends. 

There are specific legal actions required to formally end child support. The obligor can't just stop making payments when the child turns 18 or graduates from high school. They need to ask the court formally to terminate the child support order. Failure to do so could result in continued responsibility for payments. 

Additionally, a parent cannot terminate their obligation to pay child support by relinquishing parental rights or agreeing to have their parental rights terminated. In Texas, a parent's duty to support their child financially continues until the legal termination conditions are met, regardless of any other changes in the parent-child relationship. 

Frequently Asked Questions 

Covering a wide range of topics, these FAQs, and their answers aim to provide a fortified understanding of child support laws, calculations, modifications, and more. Whether you’re a parent seeking to understand your obligations, or you’re just interested in learning more, get the answers to your most important questions. 

Can child support cover more than basic living expenses? 

Yes, child support can include costs beyond basic necessities such as food, clothing, and shelter. It can also cover expenses related to education, transportation, extra-curricular activities, and medical expenses. 

How is child support enforced in Texas? 

In Texas, child support enforcement is managed by the Office of the Attorney General. They can enforce child support orders by withholding income, intercepting federal income tax refunds, suspending driver's, professional, and hunting/fishing licenses, or even taking legal action leading to jail time. 

Can custody or visitation rights be denied if the child support is not paid? 

No, visitation rights cannot be denied even if the paying parent fails to pay child support. Child support and visitation rights are two separate legal issues.  

Can I claim child support payments on my taxes? 

No, in the United States child support payments are not tax-deductible for the parent who is making the payments, nor are they considered taxable income for the parent receiving the payments. 

What happens if the paying parent resides out of state? 

Child support orders are enforced no matter where the non-custodial parent lives. All U.S. states cooperate with one another to ensure compliance and enforcement of child support orders.  

What if my ex-spouse is not using the child support for my child? 

In Texas, no law stipulates how child support must be spent. However, if you believe your child's basic needs are not being met, you should seek legal representation.  

Remember, each situation is unique, and the information provided here is general in nature. For specific advice catered to your circumstances, consult with a legal professional. Our team at C.Y. Lee Legal Group is ready to assist you. Reach out to us today to schedule a confidential consultation.