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New child support law for 2018

Monday, May 21, 2018

Texas changed its child support requirements for 2018. New support guidelines and other requirements may complicate negotiations over support, parental access and other issues.

Beginning Sept. 1, 2018, courts will change the way that they approve child support modifications when they agree to an amount that does not meet Texas Family Code guidelines. The new law allows modification only if the parents agree to a different amount of support and there was a substantial and material change of circumstances for the child or a person affected by the order.

Currently, a court may approve support modifications under three conditions. First, the circumstances of the child or a person seriously impacted by the order has substantially changed since that order was issued. Next, the parents reached a mediated or collaborative law agreement. Finally, the monthly support under the order differs 20 percent or $100 from the amount that would be awarded within three years from the legal support guidelines within three years from when the order was issued.

Eliminating the third reason takes away the option of waiting three years and anticipating an increase in the monthly net resources of the parent who pays support. This change blocks the custodial parent from simply presenting evidence that employment experience increased over a three-year period.

Courts will have to order the parents paying support to cover their child's reasonable dental insurance costs along with their health insurance. Premiums will be deducted from the obligor's net resources for each month in the same way as the calculation for other health insurance.

Divorce negotiations may become more divisive because parents will have to comply with new support guidelines. Without an agreement or other special needs or extenuating circumstances, courts determine payments by first calculating the noncustodial parent's monthly income after taxes or net income. A certain percentage, depending on the number of children, is then deducted from the parent's monthly net resources.

An attorney can assist parents with determining their options under these changes and deviating from support guidelines. They can help assure that parents meet their requirements for assuring that the expenses with raising a child are met.

Source: Texas Lawyer, "Big changes coming for Texas Family Code in 2018," By Kris Balekian Hayes, Jan. 1, 2018

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