Top Ten Child Support Guideline Deviation Factors in Texas
In terms of child support, the Lone Star State is a percentage-of-income state. These percentages, which apply both in original determination and modifications, are presumptively reasonable.
However, this presumption is rebuttable, as there is no one-size-fits-all. To overcome this presumption and impose a greater or lesser obligation, the moving party can demonstrate that one of the following factors exists.
The presumption is quite strong. Marginal evidence on one or two points will probably not be enough for judges to change their mind. Instead, a Houston divorce lawyer must present substantial evidence on multiple factors. That proof should go well beyond a preponderance of the evidence (more likely than not).
Generally, younger children are less expensive to raise than older children. That’s especially true once young children leave the diapers and daycare phase. To help residential parents meet these increased expenses, child support percentages are a little high. So at least theoretically, parents build up financial reserves. But that’s obviously not possible if the children are already older when their parents divorce.
All Available Financial Resources
Many marriage dissolutions are slow-fade divorces. If they so desire, parties have ample time to conceal resources from their spouses. That’s especially common if a spouse views child support as a financial penalty. A good Houston divorce lawyer knows how to uncover hidden financial resources and set more realistic child support obligations.
Parenting Time Schedule
The deviation factor might be the most common one, since the timesharing arrangement is usually not a factor in guideline determinations. Many parents opt for divisions that are roughly equal, such as block scheduling (the children alternate blocks of time between the two parents). If that’s the case, a lower child support obligation might be appropriate.
Employment-Related Child Care Expenses
Generally, these expenses are short term costs. A party might need to look for work, and that might mean putting the children in daycare even though the party has no money coming in at the time.
Physical Custody of Another Child
The number of legal stepchildren is usually a factor in guideline determinations. But this factor might not fully account for informal physical custody arrangements, such as the child of a live-in paramour. Obligors might be entitled to a reduction if they can show that the relationship is a long-term one and they can otherwise convince a judge that a reduction is in the best interests of the child.
Theoretically, alimony payments belong to the spouse. However, a partial child support credit might be available.
Postsecondary Educational Expenses
In Texas, child support ends at age 18 or graduation from high school. However, in some cases, a judge might order additional child support as something of a college savings plan. Some factors to consider include the child’s aptitude for postsecondary education, the amount of postsecondary expenses, and the nature of the child’s relationship with the obligor.
Obligor’s Non-Cash Compensation
This factor is especially prevalent in military divorces. Servicemembers often live in subsidized or free housing. Additionally, they often have PX privileges. These financial benefits could convince a judge to adjust the child support amount either up or down.
Some children have special educational, medical, or other needs. Neither the obligor nor the obligee should bear these costs alone. To change the guideline amount, there must be evidence of both the nature of the need and the reasonableness of the cost.
This factor is especially common in modification actions. If the residential parent relocates outside the area, the obligor could be entitled to a child support reduction to offset the increased transportation expenses.
Count on a Dedicated Lawyer
The child support guidelines are not the final word in all child support matters. For a confidential consultation with an experienced Houston divorce lawyer, contact Lindamood & Robinson, P.C., Attorneys at Law. Convenient payment plans are available.