Many new laws have gone into effect as of September 1, including several that impact Texas child support orders. This is an overview of those changes. If you would like to know how the changes could impact your child support case, or if you are having difficulty paying or receiving child support, talk with a Ft. Worth family law attorney.
Added Expenses Covered in Child Support Orders
Medical and dental expenses can now be part of a cumulative child support judgment. Court clerks will keep a record of monthly child support payments as well as medical and dental support payments, as of 9/1/2021.
Support Orders Look at Local Employment Conditions
Many parents suffered a loss of income as a result of reduced hours or business closures due to the COVID pandemic. When the court considers parental ability to pay child support, it will consider not only income and assets, earning history, education and job skills, but also your record of seeking work, barriers to employment, jobs available in the community, prevailing wages, and whether there are employers willing to hire.
Reducing Child Support
Child support guidelines have been revised so that if a payor earns less than $1,000 a month, the support guideline calls for a 5% reduction. This only applies to child support cases filed after 9/1/2021. For one child, support is based on 15% of net income; for two children, 20%; for three children, 25%; four children, 30%, and five or more children, 35%.
Back Child Support
If you are one of those parents who is behind on child support because of COVID, your first course of action is to ask the court to reduce your child support order. You can ask for a modification of a child support order if a) there has been a material and substantial change in your circumstances (job loss, income loss, new child, etc.) or b) it’s been three years since your last child support order was issued and guideline amounts differ by either 20% or $100.
The date when you file for modification of a child support order is the date that any court-approved change will take effect. Even if your case can’t be heard for a month or two or more, the reduction (or increase) will be retroactive.
Securing Back Child Support
If a parent brings a motion for enforcement of a child support order and requests a money judgment for back support, the court will add together the amount of child support, medical support and dental support that is owed, plus interest. Interest accrues on unpaid support orders at a rate of 6% (simple interest).
The State of Texas has a number of tools at its disposal to secure child support:
- Garnishing wages
- Seizing an income tax return
- Taking part of a stimulus check
The new state law has added another way to secure child support: a QDRO (qualified domestic relations order). A QDRO is typically used to split retirement assets during a divorce. It can now be used to enforce a child support order. A QDRO permits a payment from a pension fund, retirement plan or employee benefit program to be sent to an alternate payee, in this case to a parent in order to satisfy a child support order.
If you would like to learn more about how recent changes in Texas child support laws could impact your child support order, contact the Law Office of V. Wayne Ward at 817-789-4436. We are here to help.