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San Antonio Child Support Lawyer
How Much Will You Be Paying for Child Support in Texas?
Every parent is obligated to financially support their child—even if they are unmarried or divorced. Calculating and awarding child support is integral to a divorce if you have children with your spouse. You’ll also face this situation if you and your child's other parent are not married.
Regardless of your situation, our child support attorney in San Antonio is here to help. At The Law Office of Derek S. Ritchie, PLLC, we put years of legal experience to work for parents navigating the murky waters of a child support dispute. When you choose our family law firm, you can rest assured that your case is in good hands.
The Legal Process for Obtaining Child Support
Seeking child support in Texas involves a defined process that varies depending on the parents' marital status.
Below, we discuss the steps involved based on the circumstances.
A child support order can be included as part of the proceedings when a couple is getting divorced. This order outlines the financial responsibilities of each parent towards their child.
Unmarried Parents and Paternity Establishment
For unmarried parents, establishing paternity is necessary before the court can issue a child support order. Paternity determines the legal father of the child. If there's a disagreement about paternity, the court may require the alleged father to undergo a paternity test to confirm biological ties.
Biological parents can establish paternity voluntarily by completing an Acknowledgement of Paternity form. Both parents sign this form and legally recognize the child's father without a court order.
Once paternity is established, one of the parents can submit a form for child support.
Calculating Child Support in Texas
In Texas, your custody order will directly impact the amount of child support you pay or receive. Most of the time, it’s the non-custodial parent—the parent who spends the least time with the child—who is required to pay child support.
Child support awards are calculated based on the non-custodial parent’s income. Parents can agree to pay more than the amount calculated by the state’s guidelines and formula, but they cannot arrange to pay less. If the parents cannot agree on an amount, the court will decide and order payments.
The state’s child support guidelines are as follows:
- 1 child: 20% of paying parent’s net resources
- 2 children: 25% of paying parent’s net resources
- 3 children: 30% of paying parent’s net resources
- 4 children: 35% of paying parent’s net resources
- 5 children: 40% of paying parent’s net resources
- 6+ children: not less than the amount for 5 children
How Long Does Child Support Last?
In Texas, child support termination is governed by specific circumstances outlined in the law.
Here are the key situations that can lead to the termination of child support:
- The child gets married: If the child enters into a legal marriage, their emancipation through marriage leads to the termination of child support.
- The child reaches 18 and is not enrolled in high school: Once a child turns 18 and is no longer attending high school, child support obligations generally end.
- Termination of the obligor's parent-child relationship: If the legal relationship between the obligor (paying parent) and the child is terminated, such as through adoption, child support responsibilities may cease.
- The child enlists in the armed forces: If the child enlists in any branch of the armed forces, their enlistment is considered a form of emancipation, resulting in the termination of child support.
Understanding the conditions under which child support obligations end helps parents navigate these changes effectively.
Modifying & Enforcing Child Support
If the child support order you agreed to years ago no longer reflects your needs or ability to pay, you can request a modification. The process can be difficult, and ultimately, a court will usually only amend child support payments if it is in the child’s best interest. Our child support lawyer in San Antonio can help you petition for a modification or defend against a modification request from the other parent.
Our firm can also help you enforce a child support order the other parent is violating. If your child’s other parent is failing to make their payments on time and in full, you can take legal action to hold them liable. They could face severe penalties if they are found in contempt of court.
Statute of Limitations for Enforcing Child Support
Texas Family Code § 157.005 outlines the statute of limitations for enforcing child support compliance. When a non-complying parent fails to adhere to a support order, the court can address this issue. If a motion for enforcement is submitted within two years of the child reaching adulthood or the expiration of the child support obligation, the court can find the non-compliant parent in contempt.
In cases where a parent is owed arrearages for child, medical, and dental support, there's a provision to file a motion for enforcement seeking a money judgment. This motion can be filed within 10 years of the child turning 18 or when the child support obligation concludes.
If you need help with your case, schedule a consultation with our San Antonio child support attorney by calling (210) 702-2203 or reaching out online.