Child Support Attorney in Houston
A skilled child support attorney can help you with issues related to child support, modification, and enforcement. Many people in Texas believe that child support is only the responsibility of the non-custodial parent. However, the truth is both parents contribute to the financials costs of raising children. These costs are taken into account when negotiating a divorce decree that benefits all parties involved, especially what is in the best interests of the children.
At The Alsandor Law Firm, located in Houston, Texas, we provide sound counsel to parents who are trying to figure out their support obligations. Our child support attorneys in Houston are experienced at helping people determine when the state guidelines should be used to calculate their child support payments or when a creative approach is called for that deviates from these guidelines.
For more information about our experience and service, please contact us directly today to schedule a consultation.
We Consider Every Factor When Calculating Child Support
Cheryl Alsandor is a Board Certified Family Law Specialist who is Board Certified in Family Law by the Texas Board of Legal Specialization, and who has extensive experience helping parents who are responsible for child support payments and those who are pursuing the collection of funds.
When we meet with clients who are getting divorced, we will always begin by giving people an estimate of what their child support obligations would be under the traditional calculations. We will then carefully assess your situation to see if there are reasons to rebut or not adhere to these guidelines, such as the following examples:
- If the child has certain special medical needs or therapies
- Extraordinary expenses related to extracurricular activities, hobbies or sports training on the Olympic level
- If one parent takes care of more than one child or children outside the marriage, even if when children live in separate households
Often, there are other issues that may arise when trying to accurately calculate what an appropriate child support payment should be. This is the case especially when one parent is self-employed. We have experience researching earnings and helping self-employed payors as well as spouses who are trying to collect from self-employed payors.
What Counts as Income for Child Support Purposes?
While Texas child support guidelines consider the income of both parents, there are some financial amounts that are excluded from calculations. In general, the non-custodial parent must report net monthly income. This includes all general income, such as wages, salary, commissions, overtime, tips, and bonuses, minus allowed deductions. Deductions that you may take include state and local income taxes, union dues, and other mandatory payments.
If the non-custodial parent is unemployed, they must still report all income. This may include unemployment, social security disability payments, severance pay, retirement pay, and more. For child support purposes, they must disclose even things like gifts, prizes, inheritance, and alimony received.
If a parent is voluntarily unemployed, an imputed income may be applied to their calculation. In this case, the court will attribute an amount that the parent should be earning. It will also calculate child support according to the guidelines. The court evaluates how much a non-custodial parent should be earning by looking at:
- education level,
- past jobs,
- state and federal minimum wage, and
Some financial amounts may be excluded from income. For example, if you own a business, the court may exclude the capital used to run the business from your income. Any amount above and beyond your business expenses would be used to calculate your child support payment. Other child support payments that are made according to a court order may also be deducted from your net income.
Child support calculation and determination of who should pay whom can be complicated. If you have questions about how much money you will owe, contact a child support attorney right away. We will walk you through the calculation process so that you understand your legal options.
Which Parent Pays Child Support?
Although Texas considers child support to be the responsibility of both parents, the court typically only orders one parent to make financial payments to the other. Physical custody, or the amount of time a child spends with a parent, determines who pays child support to the other parent. For example, a court might order both parents to support a child, but in different ways. The custodial parent, or parent with the most physical custody time, typically supports the child through housing, utilities, food, and other basic needs. A non-custodial parent, who has the least amount of physical custody time, is typically ordered to pay child support.
It’s important that both custodial and non-custodial parents work with a child support attorney who can help them reach an outcome that benefits everyone involved. An attorney can evaluate your situation, work with court personnel, and investigate the situation to determine what level of child support arrangement is best for you and your children.
Can I Challenge a Child Support Order?
If the court issues an order for child support and you do not agree with it, you may challenge it. The court may not have considered the entirety of your situation. If you are a non-custodial parent, you may be paying for expenses that were not considered. If you are a custodial parent, the court may have failed to look at all of the needs of the child. Factors that may warrant an adjustment of a child support order include the following:
- Special needs of the child
- Ability of parents to support the child
- Financial assets and debts of both parents
- Amount of time each parent spends with the child
- Net resources of each parent
- Child care or daycare costs
- Alimony payments
- Legal custody, or managing conservatorship
- Educational expenses
- Additional employment not reported by either parent
- Wage deductions not considered by the court
- Health care expenses for the child
- Cost of travel between both parents and who pays for the travel
- Cash flow from personal property or other assets
A skilled child custody attorney will consider all of these aspects of your case. They will also make sure the court is aware of extenuating circumstances that may warrant a reconsideration of a child support order.
Modification of Child Support
We also routinely help people apply for modifications when their circumstances have substantially changed such as a job loss or other event that hinders their ability to pay. You may also know that the other parent’s situation has changed and they should be paying a different amount. Whether you want to increase or decrease child support, a child support attorney can help you.
A child support attorney can help you with the Child Support Review Process (CSRP). This will enable you to request a child support modification. If there has been a material or substantial change in your circumstances, then the court should review your situation to ensure your children are being properly provided for by both parents.
Modification of child support often occurs when there has been a shift in the amount of physical custody time between parents or in the event of job change or loss. These constitute significant changes in circumstances, and a modification of child support is appropriate. A child support attorney can review your case and let you know if your specific situation warrants a modification.
Enforcement of Child Support
If someone has not applied for a modification and is delinquent in payment, we can help you pursue an enforcement action in family court as well. Child support enforcement often requires obtaining a court order or seeking enforcement through a contempt order. Because the court has previously ordered the payment of child support, it may consider failure to do so as contempt. There are many criminal and civil options to enforcing child support.
You may be able to have child support withheld from wages or garnished from tax returns. In some extreme cases of refusal to pay, an obligor may be arrested and forced to pay child support. If you are facing an enforcement situation, you should contact a child support attorney right away.
Contact a Child Support Attorney for Help With Your Case
Whatever your child support concerns, we encourage you to contact us today to schedule a consultation to discuss your needs. A knowledgeable lawyer can guide you through the legal issues that you will face with child support. No one should navigate the legal environment on their own. It’s important to work with someone who is familiar with the local courts, other attorneys, and judges who may be making decisions about your case. Call a child support attorney from The Alsandor Law Firm today at (713) 352-3506.