If you are a father who is getting divorced, you will be dealing with questions about child support. Judges usually do a very good job resolving these matters fairly, but of course, they are not perfect. And even when they do get it right, things can change.
Something may have happened in your life to make you reconsider the court’s arrangements. Whatever the reason, here are a few things you need to know about child support and child support lawyers for fathers.
COURTS HAVE VERY LITTLE FLEXIBILITY WHEN ESTABLISHING CHILD SUPPORT
Child support is a parent’s legal obligation to make payments. The other parent uses this money to meet the basic expenses of the children, including housing, food, clothing, and health care.
Texas, like other states, receives federal assistance. As a result, Texas must comply with federal requirements, and courts have very little discretion in determining how much money a divorced father will have to pay in child support. A skilled divorce attorney can explain these requirements to you.
HOW DO JUDGES DETERMINE CHILD SUPPORT?
As in most states, Texas judges use a formula to calculate the payment amount. The key factors they look at are your income, the number of children, and the percentage of time each party has physical possession of the children. Secondary factors include the age of the children and any special needs they may have.
While this may seem cold, keep in mind that the court’s primary objective is to do what is best for the children—NOT for you. While that sounds like a good idea, as we will see, in practice, things can get complicated. And you may find yourself need a good child support lawyer.
CAN YOU GET CHILD SUPPORT PAYMENTS ADJUSTED?
First, the bad news: Being unemployed is not sufficient reason to be excused from paying child support.
However, if the factors the court initially used to calculate your payment amount have changed, you may be able to request an adjustment. Legitimate reasons for requesting an adjustment include:
- Becoming disabled
- A significant loss in income
- A significant change in the child’s insurance or child care arrangement
- A child is no longer entitled to receive support (for example, if he is adopted by your ex’s new husband)
Another scenario is that the father initially agreed to the payment arrangements but now feels that they are excessive. You may worry that you’re not able to care for yourself.
A father has the right to go before the court and explain why he feels that the payment amount is unfair. You will need to hire a lawyer who can help you get the child support payment amount lowered. This is known as a court order modification.
BE SURE TO KEEP UP WITH CHILD SUPPORT PAYMENTS WHILE YOU WAIT TO HEAR FROM YOUR LAWYER
As we mentioned, the court’s main concern is to protect the interests of the children. As a result, the Texas Family Code requires parents to keep up with child support payments regardless of their circumstances. This includes while you are awaiting a court order modification.
If you fall behind, the court can garnish your wages and tax refunds, file a lien against your property, and report you to credit agencies.
And that’s just the start: The judge also can charge you with contempt. This charge can carry civil or criminal penalties. The judge could order you to pay a fine or even do jail time. Plus, you eventually will have to pay the money you already owe.
If you are a father who has fallen behind on your payments, we strongly encourage you to hire an experienced child support lawyer for fathers as quickly as possible.
SHOULD I HIRE A MALE CHILD SUPPORT LAWYER?
Not necessarily. We want to be clear: A female divorce attorney can do just as good a job advocating a father as a male attorney. In fact, we know of many, many women who are outstanding lawyers.
At the same time, divorce is an intensely personal experience. It’s not the same as, say, a traffic accident case or a contested will. In a child support case, some men may just feel more comfortable hiring a male divorce lawyer, perhaps even someone who also is a dad. The client may feel that another father will be better able to understand what he is going through.
But all of this is just a matter of personal preference. The real point is to make sure you find a child support lawyer who knows the law, understands your unique concerns as a father, and knows how to fight for you in court.
MEN ARE ELIGIBLE TO COLLECT CHILD SUPPORT, TOO
Some fathers don’t mind paying child support. Instead, the dads are concerned about how the money is being spent. If you are struggling to make payments, it can be very upsetting to see your ex constantly buying new things. A child support lawyer may be able to help you by filing a Motion for Accounting of Child Support by the Custodial Parent.
While it is less common, occasionally, the court will order the mother to pay child support. And some fathers may have trouble collecting the money.
The court can help you resolve this problem. We recommend you speak with an experienced child support lawyer in your area.
EXPERIENCED AND COMPASSIONATE LAWYERS WHO UNDERSTAND CHILD SUPPORT AND THE CONCERNS OF FATHERS
The Maynard Law Firm, PLLC, never stops working for you. We will fight to make sure that you receive the best possible child support arrangements. If your divorce is already final, we can help you secure modifications to court-ordered child support, For experienced, compassionate legal representation, call us today at 817-335-9600.