One of the most important areas of some divorces is child support. The details of child support are settled during court hearings.
Through a child support hearing, the courts will determine who will pay child support, how much it will be, and other details surrounding your divorce’s child support order. It’s imperative that you are prepared for something this important in your divorce. Here’s a look at what to expect from a child support hearing and what steps you can take to be prepared in the eyes of the court system.
What is a Child Support Hearing?
At a child support hearing, the judge determines how much child support a parent will pay, but there are several types of child support hearings.
If a divorce is pending, then all child support issues are to be determined as part of the divorce rather than as separate hearing. However, if the parents are not married, the State Attorney General Child Support Office, or either parent, may initiate an original child support hearing.
These hearings are called a SAPCR hearing, which is short for Suit Affecting Parent-Child Relationship. It is possible as well that a child support hearing is held after a prior order is set up for the purpose of raising or lowering the amount of monthly child support. These are considered Child Support Modification hearings.
What Does a Child Support Order Address?
If the issues of child custody and visitation have already been adjudicated or agreed upon, then the court will focus only on the amount of child support to be paid by the non-primary parent.
However, oftentimes it is not in agreement who the primary conservator of the child will be. In those situations, the court cannot determine a child support amount until making a ruling on Conservatorship (primary custody) as well as the visitation schedule.
So, in effect, a child support hearing often quickly turns into a custody hearing. Also, In addition to actual cash child support, the court will make orders regarding health insurance for the child and orders as to who is responsible for premiums and uncovered health expenses.
Will the Court Provide You With Representation?
The Court does not provide parties with representation in child support matters. The one exception, however, would be a situation in which a party faces jail time for nonpayment of child support, in which he or she is entitled to representation.
In cases brought by the Texas Attorney General Child Support Office, an attorney is present at the hearing. However, those attorneys do not represent either party to the case. They are here for the State of Texas and are not required to advocate for you.
What Are Guidelines for Child Support?
Texas uses predetermined formulas to calculate child support obligations. However, it is not as simple as a set percentage of your income for one child. Things that can affect the outcome of the child support guidelines are things like using the correct number of exemptions, cost of health care, support due for other children outside the relationship, union dues, certain work expenses, travel expenses to visit the child, and many other variables.
Also, while the court generally applies the guideline to determine child support amounts, the Family Code provides for the court to go outside the guidelines in certain situations such as unusual needs of a child or parent. Child support amounts can also vary in non-standard visitation situations such as where both parents care for the child equal amounts of time.
Courts Expect You to Be Prepared
At child support hearings, you should be well prepared to put on evidence to prove your income or that of the other parent. The Court also will need to hear evidence regarding the availability of health insurance as well as the cost of insurance.
If you are unemployed the court will also hear evidence of the reason for which you may be unemployed. If you believe income may go down in the future be prepared to prove that as well. A good child support attorney will know the best way to present this evidence.
Prepare Your Documents for Child Support Court
The truth is necessary during decisions involving your children, and the right documents can help back up your argument. Work with your divorce lawyer to compile documents and proof, ensuring the correct amount of child support is ordered.
Some of the Documents to Bring Are:
- Federal Income Taxes from the last few years
- Your pay stubs
- Proof of a new job if you haven’t started yet
- Evidence you are seeking employment
- Proof of your financial needs
- Details of any under-the-table income
Perfect Your Child Support Case With Marx, Altman & Johnson
If your divorce means that you’re entitled to receive child support, you need a divorce lawyer on your side who can help you craft your case! The family law attorneys of Marx, Altman & Johnson will help you gain the child support your family needs. Contact us today to schedule a free consultation and learn more about how we can help make your road through divorce a smoother one.