Child Support: Gender Neutral Pro Rata Child Support Obligations

One of the most frequent inquiries we receive at The Nacol Law Firm is whether child support obligations are equally applied between Mothers and Fathers. When a parent is considering a divorce or a union break up with the child’s other parent, who pays for child support and medical/dental insurance for the child, for how long and according to what guidelines?

The State of Texas (Texas Family Code Ch 154) Sec. 154.001. SUPPORT OF CHILD. (a) The court may order “Either” or “Both” parents to support a child in the manner specified by the order: (1) until the child is 18 years of age or until graduation from high school, whichever occurs later; (2) until the child is emancipated through marriage, through removal of the disabilities of minority by court order, or by other operation of law; (3) until the death of the child; or (4) if the child is disabled as defined in this chapter, for an indefinite period.

The State of Texas child support laws dictate that children are entitled to financial support from both parents. Texas establishes child support guidelines to determine how much an average child will need. The guidelines provide for a basic amount of support to the parent who receives it based on the other parent’s income and number of children to be supported. However, there may be special circumstances that justify the court’s deviation from the standard amount of child support. Extraordinary expenses can be taken into consideration, including medical expenses or high childcare costs and other specific exceptions.

The State of Texas also supports that a Father and Mother should have the relatively equal rights to the child and should share in the child’s care and support. What does that mean? If Mom or Dad each have standard access and possession 50% of the time, then the Father and Mother should pay guideline support for the care of the child. Yes, Father and Mother.

With a substantial rise of mothers paying child support in the United States, many women are reevaluating their situations, when they find out Dad will not be paying all expenses and child support and be prorated when raising the child 50% of the time.  Today’s mothers are the primary breadwinners in four out of 10 U.S. families (Pew Research).

Texas statutes dictate specific Child Support guidelines and, like it or not, other than rare exceptions, neither parent can escape this obligation!  Many mothers will plea that they cannot work because of their obligation to the care of the child or will under-employ to try to escape paying their rightful share of the child’s support. But in today’s world many parents either share 50/50 time with their child or father may be the primary custodial parent.

If the mother refuses to pay court-ordered child support, there may be several enforcement options. A contempt of court action can hold the mother civilly or criminally liable for not obeying the court’s mandate. If found guilty, the mother may be required to post a bond equal to the amount of child support in arrearages or may have to serve time in jail for contempt. Other actions include suspending the mother’s driver’s license or professional license, intercepting tax refunds or federal payments, denying passports, placing liens on property and reporting the debt to credit bureaus.

CHILD SUPPORT GUIDELINES BASED ON THE MONTHLY NET RESOURCES OF THE OBLIGOR:

  • 1 child 20% of Obligor’s Net Resources
  • 2 children 25% of Obligor’s Net Resources
  • 3 children 30% of Obligor’s Net Resources
  • 4 children 35% of Obligor’s Net Resources
  • 5 children 40% of Obligor’s Net
  • 6+ children Not less than the amount for 5 children

(3/5/2019 FAMILY CODE CHAPTER 154. CHILD SUPPORT https://statutes.capitol.texas.gov/Docs/FA/htm/FA.154.htm 20/47)

For more information on Texas Child Support Guidelines, please go to the Texas Attorney General Child Support Website at: https://csapps.oag.texas.gov/monthly-child-support-calculator

Mark Nacol
Nacol Law Firm 

Dallas TX 

A Fathers Rights – Child Custody for Texas Fathers

Courts, legislatures and juries are becoming more aware of the necessity of father’s being involved in the lives of their children.  Children with positive father involvement have fewer behavior problems, higher levels of sociability, and perform better in school.

Recent research suggests that father involvement during pregnancy affects multiple areas of child and family well- being, from prenatal care initiation and mother and child health outcomes, to the likelihood that the father will provide ongoing financial and emotional support.  This body of research is gaining momentum.  Local and regional governmental agencies are focusing more and more on parental father involvement in the lives of children.

As a result of the changes taking place in society today, the Courts are now recognizing a father’s ability to care for his children as becoming equal to that of the mother.   Starting out on an equal plane, the Court may look to which parent is more stable, has a superior income, has a parenting plan in place for the child and is capable of providing proper child care and spending more quality time with the child.

If a father ignorantly gives up rights to his children based on prejudices of the past in the Court system he can feed a mother’s confidence and sponsor unnecessary ongoing litigation.  The number one mistake made by father’s in the court system today is a failure to take the time to learn how the system works.  Failing to learn how the family law system works may doom your case.  Once you have learned the ins and outs of the family law system you will need to form a plan, set goals and never relent in enforcing your rights as a father.

Five of the biggest mistakes men make in a legal action are: 1) failing to respond to the legal action itself;  2) obtaining incorrect legal advice (from friends and family rather than a legal expert);  3) signing a settlement agreement they are not in agreement with and later deeply regretting it;  4) failing to perform under the actual settlement agreement signed; and  5) getting frustrated and/or acquiescing to unreasonable orders.

Some of the things you may want to consider as you prepare for the custody battle are as follows:

  1. Who has the financial ability to best care for the child(ren)?  Be sure to have income tax verification, W-2 Forms and other financial information available.
  2. Form a parenting plan (child care, after school care, transportation, pediatrician, etc.).
  3. Who is more stable and/or can provide the best home for the child(ren)?
  4. Where has the child(ren) been attending school?  Is it possible to keep the child in the same school district?
  5. Prepare a chronology of events leading up to the divorce including treatment of the child(ren), time spent with the child(ren), activities with the child(ren), the child(ren)’s schedule.
  6. Consider if a home study should be prepared regarding each home of the child.
  7. Consider whether a psychological evaluation should be done on the mother?
  8. Is drug testing necessary?  (Be sure to request hair follicle drug testing.)
  9. Is there an alcohol or other addiction problem in the home?
  10. Who can provide the best moral upbringing for the children?
  11. Is there evidence such as pictures, video tapes, etc. that may help your case?
  12. Avoid unnecessary compromising photos or data on Facebook or other social networking sites.

List any other relevant issues you feel may be important to your case before you meet with an attorney.

The most important thing to remember is that your failure, if based on dated concepts and inapplicable worn out prejudices, will be her victory and your parental failure.

Getting a Divorce? Should I Move Out of the Marital Home?

This is a complicated question to answer depending upon the facts of each case.  If you have experienced domestic violence you need to immediately do whatever is necessary to secure you and your child’s safety.  Many times a victim will go to court for a protective order and ask the judge to move the abusive or violent spouse out.  In this situation contact an experienced family law attorney now!

In most cases, absent of violence or risk of abuse, we would not suggest that a spouse move out of the marital residence.

Why is this?  One reason is once you have vacated the residence it may be very difficult to get back in! You have no legal obligation to leave the residence if your name is on the lease or mortgage personally and exclusivity.

Our suggestion to a client might be, to remain in the residence since the person who vacates may still have financial obligations and expenses of the family residence, while paying all expenses on a new residence for themselves. Double expenses are not a desirable result during the divorce process.

The higher wage earning spouse who moves out of the marital home must expect to continue to pay most of the household expenses, including the insurance and mortgage!  What about the personal property and furnishings in the residence?

If an agreement has not been made between the divorcing couple, the moving spouse will generally only be able to leave with personal belongings (clothing & jewelry) until a court rules fairly as to temporary possession.

Secure a court order ASAP to equalize property and household expenses.