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Child Support


Child Support Lawyer in Houston, TX


Every child has the right to receive support from their parents. Whether their parents are divorced, legally separated, or together, every parent has the responsibility to provide and support the development and growth of their child. Texas state laws encourage parents, even divorced parents, to cooperate with each other and to support their children. Our Houston child support lawyer can help ensure that your child’s best interests are always put first in every decision made.

Child Support Payments

In Texas, child support should be enough to cover the child’s basic needs, which include clothing, food, shelter, and other living expenses. Support payments could also be used for daycare and schooling expenses, transportation and travel expenses, and extracurricular activities that help in nurturing the child.

The amount of child support required from each parent will depend on their salary and other sources of income and how much time they spend with their children. Both parents, even if they’re not legally married, have a financial obligation to the child.

Usually, the parent with child custody (custodial parent) would have to pay less for child support, while the non-custodial parent usually pays more. Sometimes, the court would also “impute” income to a parent if they try to avoid paying for child support, especially when they can actually earn more than what they are currently earning.

Texas Child Support Calculation

Under Federal law (45 CFR § 302.56), all states must have an established guideline on how to calculate child support payments. Both parents have the responsibility to provide for their children. The child support guidelines calculate how much each parent is required to pay.

There are different factors which a family court must consider when calculating child support. In general,  these include items such as:

  • The child’s basic needs such as food, education, and health checkups
  • The income and needs of the custodial parent
  • The non-custodial parent’s income and ability to provide financial support
  • The child’s standard of living prior to the separation or divorce

Before the court can make a decision regarding child support arrangements, both parents are usually required to fill out forms that would indicate the parent’s financial capabilities. In the financial statement, both parties must include their monthly income and expenses.

When a court decides on child support, it will usually consider the family’s standard of living prior to the divorce or separation of parents, and will usually try to maintain this standard for the children. However, maintaining two homes on the same income level that previously supported only one household can be difficult, so the court would try to make realistic decisions to meet realistic goals.

The monthly salary and income of both parents are used to determine how much is needed to pay for child support. In Texas, there are child support guidelines that need to be followed, and a child support calculator that would help parents to assess how much they need to pay. A Houston child support lawyer can provide you legal assistance and help you calculate child support.

Who Pays for Child Support in Houston, TX?

Physical custody (the parent living with the child) in Texas will determine who has to fulfill the obligation of supporting the child and paying child support. Usually, only the non-custodial parent would have to pay child support, although both parents could be ordered by the court to financially support the child.

The child support payment will be based on the non-custodial parent’s salary and income which will be calculated using the child support guidelines in Texas. A Houston child support lawyer can help you understand how it works to calculate the fees you’d have to pay.

While parents can choose to give more than the amount that is required of them, they can’t pay less than the amount mandated by the court. In some cases, however, a court can review the case if the calculations after using the guidelines were unfair and they can adjust the amount accordingly through modification of orders.

The Texas Child Support Guidelines

Child support calculation in Texas is a fairly simple process. All you have to do is determine the noncustodial parent’s net income by taking into account all available income, then subtracting specific expenses, which are indicated below.

Gross Income

When calculating child support, your income would include your salary, wages, commissions, tips, overtime, bonuses, and even military pay. Even when you’re unemployed, you’d probably still have other sources of income such as severance pay, retirement, Social Security, or unemployment benefits.

Your gross income would also include gifts and alimony. If you receive income from a rental unit or property, then you should also add that as well.

If you’re currently unemployed and have no source of income, the court puts an income value on certain assets even when they don’t currently produce any income. If an asset can be liquidated (such as if you received a house as an inheritance) then the court may consider its price as part of your income.

Additionally, if you’re purposely underemployed or unemployed to circumvent the law and avoid your obligation of child support payments, then the court will impute income to you based on what you should be earning.

Net Income

After you have determined your gross income, you need to deduct the following in order to get your net income:

  • Social Security contributions or any retirement plan payments
  • Income tax (federal)
  • Health insurance and other health expenses for the children
  • Union dues

Once you have your net income, you need to divide it by 12 to get your monthly net income. To help you determine your net income, it is best to seek the legal help of an experienced Houston family law attorney and child support lawyer.

If you’re already paying child support for other children, the court will subtract these payments from your monthly net income before the guidelines are applied.

Number of Children that Needs to Be Supported

Once your monthly net income is established, you need to multiply that number by a percentage which depends on the number of children you’ll be supporting.

  • 1 child = net income multiplied by 20%
  • 2 children = net income multiplied by 25%
  • 3 children = net income multiplied by 30%
  • 4 children = net income multiplied by 35%
  • 5 children = net income multiplied by 40%
  • For 6 children or more, the payment must at least be equal to the amount for five children.

Calculating child support can be overwhelming and confusing. At Chargois Harper Attorneys and Counselors at Law, our Houston child support lawyers provide quality legal service to help you avoid making mistakes when calculating child support.

Schedule a consultation with our Texas and Illinois family law, real estate, and estate planning attorneys today for more information.

Types of Child Custody Arrangements


Custody decisions vary from case to case, and it will depend on your family’s circumstances. While it does happen, it’s not always true that a mother will automatically get custody of a child. A judge will decide who gets custody based on the best interest of the child.

Usually, a divorcing couple would agree to give the child’s custody to the mother since they usually have more time to take care of the child, or are more aggressive in getting child custody.

However, if both parents are on equal footing when it comes to their abilities to provide and take care of the child, then the father having custody is just as likely to happen.

If you’re going through a custody battle, our Houston child custody attorney at Chargois Harper Attorneys and Counselor at Law can help. Call us at 832-479-4499 to protect your child’s best interests today.

Houston child custody attorney

Physical Custody


Physical custody is having the right to live with the child. In most cases, joint physical custody is awarded to the parents if the child spends significant amounts of or equal time with both parents. This type of arrangement works best if both parents are living close to each other, to lessen the stress on the child and to keep a normal routine. If the child is living primarily with one parent (the custodial parent), then the other parent(the non-custodial parent) will only have visitation rights or parenting time with the child. A Houston child custody attorney can help you come up with a parenting plan and visitation schedule that works for both parties.

Legal Custody


Legal custody is having the legal right to make decisions about the child’s upbringing and wellbeing. If you have legal custody, you have the obligation to make decisions about your child’s medical care (dentist’s appointments, regular check-ups, etc.), schooling, etc. If you have joint legal custody with your ex-spouse or partner, then the decisions will be made by both of you. 

If you have joint legal custody with your ex-partner, and you failed to include them in your decision-making, then they may bring it to court and ask a judge to enforce the custody arrangement which you both agreed upon. This can cause more rift between you and your ex-partner, as well as bring stress to your child.

If you think that the relationship between you and the child’s other parent isn’t healthy, and it will be hard to share joint legal custody, then you can ask a judge for sole legal custody. Having joint legal custody is what is usually awarded in court for the best interests of the child, so you’d have to convince them otherwise. If you’re planning to file for sole custody, it is best to connect with an experienced Houston family attorney. Our Houston TX attorneys at Chargois Harper Law can help you decide on the best course of action to take based on your family’s specific circumstances.

Sole Custody


Sometimes, a parent can have sole physical custody or sole legal custody of a child. While a family court would usually prefer to grant joint custody to both parents, a court would grant sole custody if the other parent is not qualified or unfit to take care of a child. For example, if they are drug or alcohol dependent or they have charges of child neglect or abuse.

In most cases, when one parent is awarded sole physical custody, both parents are still given joint legal custody of the child. The custodial parent will be the primary physical custodian of the child, while the non-custodial parent will be given visitation rights under a schedule or parental agreement.

If you need legal help getting sole custody of your children, contact our Houston child custody attorney by calling 832-479-4499 today.

Joint Custody


In joint custody, parents share the responsibility of making decisions regarding their child’s wellbeing or share physical custody of the child (where the child lives). Joint custody is for parents who don’t live together, are divorced, legally separated, or no longer cohabiting. 

Joint custody can either be:

  • Joint physical custody
  • Joint legal custody
  • Joint physical and legal custody

In joint custody, parents usually share a schedule and work around their work schedule, housing arrangements, and their child’s needs. If the parents can’t agree on a schedule that would work for both of them, then the court will come up with an arrangement. Usually, the court will impose a schedule that is split between the two parents every few weeks. Other joint physical custody schedules are:

  • Every other month, year, or every six months
  • Spending weekdays with one parent, while spending weekends with the other parent

In other arrangements, the children will stay in the family home while the parents will take turns in staying with them. This is called “nesting” or “bird’s nest custody.” Our Houston child custody attorneys can help you find the best custody arrangement for your child.

Visitation


In Texas, a Standard Possession Order will set forth the visitation rights of the non-custodial parent. It will give the visiting parent the right to visit every other weekend, usually on the first, third, and fifth weekends of every month. When the parents live apart for more than 100 miles, the non-custodial parent will usually be awarded only one weekend to visit per month and an additional visitation for another time. Both parents will have the right to spend time with their child during holidays, and divide the visitation in half or alternating years. During summer, non-custodial parents are entitled to 30-day visitation periods. If the parents live 100 miles apart or more, the non-custodial parent will be awarded 42 days of visitation period during the summer.

Discussing child custody arrangements and visitation rights can be stressful and overwhelming, especially when you are going through a divorce. Our Houston family attorneys can help you come up with an arrangement that is best for your child and is fit for your family’s situation. Contact us by calling 832-479-4499 today to talk about child custody and visitation with our experienced Houston TX family attorneys.

 

 

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