Contact me at the Law Office of Douglas C. Smith for the advice of an experienced El Paso, Texas, child support lawyer in any situation where you expect either to be making or receiving payments for the support of one or more children, including divorce cases, parentage cases, and interstate child support enforcement cases under Title IV-D of the Social Security Act.
In a divorce case, child support obligations are determined either by agreement of the parties or by court order with reference to the Texas Child Support Guidelines. The Guidelines specify a somewhat complicated formula based mainly on the income of the parents obligated to pay support and the needs of the child.
Although the divorcing spouses are free to negotiate child support obligations between them, the Family Court judge needs to find that the agreement is in the best interests of the child, and the Guideline amount is legally presumed to be amount that’s in the best interests of the child. If the parents arrive at a different amount, they will need to convince the judge that the amount they’ve agreed upon is in fact in the child’s best interests.
The same Guidelines determine the obligations of a noncustodial unmarried parent. Unlike divorce cases, however, where child custody and parenting time are worked out either by agreement or in a contested court hearing, an unmarried parent’s child support obligations do not by themselves imply any formal right to shared custody or visitation. It’s up to that parent to bring a Suit Affecting the Parent-Child Relationship in order to have these broader parental rights recognized.
In divorce or parentage cases involving active duty military personnel, all of the nontaxable allowances and benefits shown on the Leave and Earning Statement are considered as income in calculating Texas child support payments, which can very substantially increase the amount of the obligation.
Child support payments can be modified on the basis of substantially changed circumstances, but these will generally not include periods of voluntary unemployment or underemployment.
For reliable advice from a knowledgeable child support attorney on any question arising from divorce or paternity, contact my family law firm in El Paso.