Who Has to Pay Child Support?
Child support orders are among the most basic and important aspects of a divorce. Support is generally granted to one parent and paid by the other for the benefit of the children when it is decided that they will not seek joint custody. A Bryan divorce lawyer can help you with determining child support, and with enforcing an agreement if one is not being kept.
Determining Who Pays Child Support
Generally speaking, child support is granted to the custodial parent and is to be paid by the non-custodial parent. This is because the court recognizes the time and finances the custodial parent provides to the child, and both parents are expected to be equal partners in supporting the child. Failure to pay child support can result in criminal charges.
Increasingly, alternative living situations exist which can make the question of paying child support confusing. The following is a guideline:
- Unmarried Parents: Regardless of whether individuals marry or not, if they are the biological parents of a child, then they are required to help provide support. Generally the mother is more likely to acknowledge parenthood than an unwed father, but a DNA paternity test can settle any question about parentage.
- Grandparents: Grandparents are not generally required to pay child support. It does not matter whether the child has reached legal adulthood. An exception to this is when the grandparents establish an in loci parentis relationship, which means that they legally accept responsibility for the child as though they were natural parents.
- Stepparents: Stepparents are not legally required to provide support to a child after a divorce. The exception to this is when, as with grandparents, they establish an in loci parentis relationship.
Determining How Much Child Support Is to Be Paid
Once it is ordered that a non-custodial parent pays child support, the court will make a determination of how much support is necessary. Child support payments are made through a payroll deduction by the employer before the parent sees the paycheck. The following formula is used by Texas courts to decide on a support amount:
- For one child, the parent pays 20% of net income
- For two children, the payment is 25% of net income
- For three children, the payment is 30%
The percentage increases by 5% until 5 children, after which the amount is calculated based on what the court feels the non-custodial parent can pay. The amount for six or more children must be at least that for five children.