Texas family law attorney Kathy Ongert understands that in the case of a divorce Texas child support law holds both parents responsible for child care. Kathy Ongert has represented hundreds of clients with child support issues in Houston, Clear Lake, Galveston and surrounding areas. Many noncustodial parents do not understand that they can be reported to the credit bureau, have their license suspended, thrown in jail, etc. for nonpayment of child support. Houston family law attorney Kathy Ongert provides many years of experience to properly point out your child support rights and responsibilities. Kathy will attempt to answer some of the most common questions people have about child support; however, if your question is not addressed please " ASK KATHY."
- Who can be ordered to pay child support?
A court can order either parent of a child to pay child support to the other parent. The court order for support is usually payable on a monthly basis. Many states now require that child support be paid by wage withholding (automatic deductions from the paycheck) whenever available, thus reducing the need for subsequent enforcement actions. Harris and Galveston counties usually require that a wage withholding order be entered, and in most cases, the support is paid through the state's central Child Support Disbursement Unit, where all payments are recorded and monitored for accuracy.
- How long must child support be paid?
In Texas child support is due and payable until the child reaches the age of 18 and graduates from high school, unless emancipated for other reasons. There is no legal duty in Texas to support children through the college years.
- How is the amount of child support determined?
Federal law now requires that the amount of a child support payment be set in accordance with a "guideline." Having a guideline is believed to prevent widely different amounts of child support being ordered from courtroom to courtroom. Guidelines provide an objective basis for the determination of the amount of support to be paid. As a result, most states have established formulas that are used to determine the amount of the payment from one parent to the other.
Generally speaking the child support payer will be required to pay 20 percent of his or her net resources per month for one child, 25 percent for two children, 30 percent for three children and 35 percent for four children. The obligation can be different if certain factors come into play.
- I am a stepparent. Do I have an obligation to support the children from my spouse's previous marriage?
No. You should not be responsible to provide for the stepchildren's support, unless there was an adoption or you agreed to provide support in a marital agreement.
- My income dropped dramatically when I was laid off my job and I cannot make my child support payments. Is there any way I can lower my child support payments?
Unexpected, significant decreases in income can be a reason to request modification of your child support order. Consult a lawyer who will probably advise you to file a motion to ask the court to modify the amount of the child support owed in the future, explaining your major and unavoidable drop in your financial situation, that the income is not likely to be replaced soon, and why the change would be fair. Most courts are sympathetic and receptive to making necessary changes in child support when you have experienced a financial setback. However, as a general rule, your child support obligation will continue at its original level until a modification of the support amount is granted by the judge. Thus, time is of the essence when you fall on hard times. Again, paying a lawyer to help can pay for itself dozens of times over.
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