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Family Courts oversee several different types of family related cases including child support agreements.
What is child support? This financial court order is in place to ensure the health and well-being, both physically and emotionally, of the children. Child support is intended to help provide the basic human necessities and ensure the children experience the same lifestyle after divorce as they did when their parents were married. The judge will always look to what is best for the children when ruling on financial agreements associated with divorce. If payments are missed, the individual will likely be considered in contempt of court possibly resulting in jail time.
How much is enough? The family court judge will consider many factors when ruling on the amount a parent will be required to pay for child support. The priority is always the health and well-being of the child or children. Specific considerations are food and shelter, educational needs, medical needs, age of children, income of both parents and the custody arrangement. The medical needs include regular doctor visits, dental care and health insurance. The age of the children is important because a baby will have different needs from a teenager. Expenses naturally increase as children get older, such as the cost of clothing, food, educational needs and social outings. Custody arrangements vary greatly; some couples split the custody 50/50 while other arrangements have the children in one primary home. The latter arrangement will likely mean the custodial parent will be awarded child support payments as they are responsible for the children the majority of the time.
How long is one obligated to pay child support? The court determines the time-frame of child support payments and the specifics should be outlined in the official written agreement. The court will usually identify the termination of a child support obligation to occur when the children reach the age of majority, the age at which the individual is lawfully deemed as responsible for him or herself. State laws govern the age of majority; most states recognize 18 to be the age of majority while other states deem the age to be 21.
What happens if the custody changes? It is not uncommon for situations to change from when the original child support agreement was established. For example, a job may change leading to an increase or a decrease in income, one of the parents becomes ill and cannot work or the custody agreement changes and the child or children are spending more time in the home of the parent paying child support. Under those circumstances, a modification to the child support agreement may be requested by the court that originally processed the agreement.
What happens when a payment is missed? In the eyes of the law, complying with the court order to pay child support is considered quite serious. If several payments are missed, there is a possibility of a suspended license and registration. In addition, the individual will be required to pay fines in addition to the missed payment(s) and he or she could possibly be in contempt of court as child support is a court order.
The top child support lawyers in Austin, TX can answer all of your questions and make sure you are getting the payments you need.
Thank you to our friends and contributors at The Law Office of Ryan S. Dougay for their insight into child support.