Austin Texas Family Law, Eminent Domain and Personal Injury Lawyer FAQ

Austin, Texas family law, eminent domain personal and injury lawyer frequently asked questions and answers

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  • Does equal possession eliminate medical and dental support?

    As of September 1, 2018, the court must always order medical and dental support for the child, even in cases where the parents have equal possession time.

  • May parents change child support by agreement?

    Parents may not change child support by agreement. In order to ensure that any change is in the child's best interest, the court must order any modification to child support.

  • When can child support be changed?

    You may as the court to modify child support if there has been a substantial change in circumstances. Child support may also be changed if three years have passed since the last child support order and the new guideline child support amount would differ by 20% or $100 from the current amount.

    The method for asking the court to change child support is filing a modification case. 

  • Can I deny visitation if child support is not paid?

    You cannot deny the other parent visitation time with the child based on not paying child support. In fact, you may be held in contempt for doing so. The proper remedy for failure to pay child support is to have the court sanction the non-payer. You may not use visitation as leverage over child support.

  • What if I don’t pay my child support?

    If you do not pay your court-ordered child support, terrible things may happen to you. The court may:

    send you to jail,

    order you to pay all back child support plus interest, 

    take your federal income tax refund, 

    suspend your driver’s license, 

    suspend any professional licenses you might have, 

    suspend your hunting license and fishing license, 

    order a lien filed against your property, and

    take your lottery winnings.

    The point here is: pay your child support, and do it the correct way so you have proof.

  • What is an Income Withholding Order?

    Having your child support payments withheld from your paycheck through an Income Withholding Order is the best way to make sure they are paid. This order requires your employer to withhold child support from your paycheck and send the child support to the Texas Child Support Disbursement Unit (SDU), which then sends the child support directly to the other parent. This also creates a record that protects the payer by proving payments were made as required. The court must sign a withholding order in every case child support is ordered. However, sometimes the parents may agree to avoid having the withholding order sent to the employer. In that case, the parent ordered to pay child support must remember to send each payment to the SDU on their own.

    Note: you should never send child support payments directly to the other parent. If there is a dispute down the road, the court may consider these payments as a "gift" and order that the child support must still be paid.

  • What is "back child support"?

    If you do not live with your child and you do not help support your child, you may be ordered to pay “back” or “retroactive” child support to the person who cared for your child. This is true even if there is no prior court order. If there is a court order and you do not pay child support as ordered, you will be ordered to repay the child support “arrears” ("back child support") with interest.

  • When does child support end?

    Child support (including medical support) usually ends when a child turns 18 or graduates from high school, whichever occurs later. However, if the child is disabled, child support can continue for as long as it is needed.

    Note that if you owe “back” child support or medical support, you must continue to pay until the debt is paid in full, regardless of the age of the child.

  • Do I pay child support if I am unemployed or underemployed?

    If you are not working, the court can calculate your child support based on the presumption that you can earn minimum wage at 40 hours a week. This does not apply if you are in jail or prison and will be there for more than 90 days. 

    If you are intentionally unemployed or underemployed (not working to your full potential), the court may set the child support on your earning potential. The court may look to past earnings to make this decision. You should talk to a lawyer if you think the other parent is intentionally unemployed or underemployed.

  • Does equal possession time eliminate child support?

    If the parents share the child equally and they earn about the same income, there may be no need for child support. However, if one parent earns significantly more money than the other, the judge may calculate guideline support for each parent and order the higher earning parent to pay the lower earning parent the difference.