One of the most common results in a divorce between two people is child support. While many divorcing couples may go through this process correctly, there are still people that fall victim to the many myths that surround this process.
Understanding support and divorce in Texas is important. After all, both parties are trying to make this family adjustment work for the child in question. Here are six common child support misconceptions that divorcing couples should pay attention to.
1. Equal Custody Means No Awarded Child Support
Sometimes, when both parents spend an equal amount of time with the children post-divorce, they are able to work out an agreement where financial support is not a necessity. However, despite the civility of equal custody, sometimes a parent is still required to pay child support.
The decision is always at the discretion of the judge and is usually handled through an offset. An offset decision in child support means that the judge orders the parent who would have paid more, to pay the difference in child support on a monthly basis.
2. A Set Agreement Can’t Be Changed
The family code in Texas has provisions in it that allow for child support agreements to be changed. As time goes on, situations evolve, and there could be several reasons why a judge would need to look back on the case and adjust.
Some common reasons for a change in an agreement are a change in medical needs or a change in living arrangements.
3. I Can Just Pay My Child Directly to My Ex-Spouse If We Agree
Quite often, potential clients will meet with their divorce attorney and announce that they have agreed with their former spousal that child support will just be paid directly to the custodial parent without the hassle of paying through the Courts or the Child Support Office.
Unfortunately, however, this is not generally possible. The reason is that because the State of Texas is charged with monitoring and collecting support, and that the payment through an agency is the method in which they are able to monitor.
So, even in the situation where a husband and wife announce to the Judge they have agreed to direct payments, the Court will generally deny that request. Sometimes a parent will still continue to pay a former spouse directly after being ordered to pay through an agency. This is a very risky financial move since most Child Support Orders contain a clause that provides that payments made outside of the agency may not be given credit towards the child support obligation.
Direct payments could result in having to basically pay double support. If, however, one has a very good reason to bypass the child support agency, he or she should still discuss that option with an attorney to see if one of the few exceptions may apply, or if perhaps there are legal creative ways which may allow a direct payment. Occasionally this can be achieved, while it is not the norm.
4. Denied Access to My Child Means I Don’t Have to Pay
Support payments and possession may be connected, but if one party is denied access to the child, this doesn’t mean that you simply stop paying child support payments. The act of withholding child support can result in some serious and costly legal consequences.
5. The Father Always Has to Pay
While this may seem like a strange misunderstanding, one would be surprised at how many people don’t understand that the Family Code in Texas is not gender-specific. The code states nothing about specific roles that need to be played by either the mother or the father in the family.
The judge in a case will determine who pays and in what amount. This is done by examining specific factors in the case and not one of them being the gender of a parent.
Don’t Make Child Support Mistakes, Consult with Marx, Altman & Johnson
Child support mistakes can be costly. Don’t let yourself fall into a financial hole after your divorce. Contact Marx, Altman & Johnson today to find out more about child support and the other areas of divorce in which we practice.