Child Support is a Long Term Obligation
Although the parents are no longer married or together, they are yoked for co-parenting. Most people can work through that given enough time. But child support? It creates a continuous conflict and this battle can go on until the children age out when they turn eighteen.
For some reason, child support payments cause resentment all the way around. The person paying support feels victimized and resentful. The person receiving support feels minimized and resentful. It is really hard to just think of it as being a parent; it becomes more about the other party than about the children.
The person paying the support (Obligor) says, “I am paying too much for child support; I can’t afford it,” or “all my money goes to child support,” or “she uses her child support for other things,” or, “I buy him things when he is with me, doesn’t that count?
Then the person receiving funds (Obligee) says, “I never get my child support on time,” or “my child support doesn’t cover the kids’ costs” or “she’s not paying my child support,” or, “He pays child support but won’t help me with dance lessons.” The truth is that children cost more than we anticipate and you have to come to terms with that fact and look at is an accounting issue not a parenting issue.
Advice for the Obligor (person paying child support)
First of all, unless support has been ordered at an unusually high amount, the amount paid is rarely enough to equal what it costs to raise a child. However, if your employment has changed and you no longer earn what you earned when the judge signed your order, you need to take action. Contact a qualified family law attorney right away so that you can work on reducing your child support legally. A verbal agreement with your ex isn’t enough. You need a new order.
Secondly, your child support obligation is calculated based upon your net resources. These resources include almost all income. If you want to know more about net resources and what is included, you can look to the Texas Family Code, Section 154.062.
Third, the person receiving support is providing food, clothing and shelter as well as parental support to your child. She might use her paycheck for a school trip and the support payment ends up covering the rent or the mortgage, or even for a new car in which to transport your child. In general, Texas courts take the position that the child support goes into the household budget just like other funds.
Fourth, buying them things when they are with you is great. It shows how much you care and lets them know they are important to you. You gave them a bonus. You cannot deduct their bonus from your support payment.
Advice for the Obligee (person receiving child support)
First, it is important that you receive your payment on time because you have bills to pay, so we agree with you there.
Second, as to whether support covers the kids’ costs, the amount the obligor has to pay is based on net resources. If the obligor’s net resources do not provide for everything, unfortunately, that is not a reason to request an increase.
Third, if you are not receiving court ordered support, contact a qualified family law attorney. The attorney will be able to assist you with an enforcement action. Take action so that the obligor does not get too far behind. Otherwise he or she may never catch up. If you are receiving state or federal assistance, the Attorney General can help collect, but having your own attorney is often a better choice. Remember the Attorney General represents the state, not you.
Fourth, especially as children get older there are extracurricular activities to consider as well as perhaps a car purchase, prom dress and eventually college expenses. At these times, the obligor may be willing to pay more, because court ordered support doesn’t usually cover extras. The obligor doesn’t have to pay more, though. A good relationship with your ex can go a long way here.
Surviving the Child Support Battle
The best way to achieve harmony is to establish a strong and cooperative co-parenting relationship. Through this foundation, both parents can learn to work together, even with finances, for the best interest of the children. In conclusion, when your daughter needs a new prom dress, Dad, don’t say, “That’s what child support is for.” And if your ex can only afford minimum wage child support, Mom, then don’t get your son’s hopes up for a new car.
If you need help collecting or reducing your child support, contact our office today. Bob Leonard leads a team of child support experts!