Child & Spousal Support

Child Support and Spousal Maintenance

Many, if not most, people who are getting a divorce are worried about how they will manage financially. The combined income which used to support one household is now going to have to support two separate homes. If you are worried about how you will support yourself and your children and want to receive child support or spousal maintenance, you should speak with a lawyer as soon as possible about your options. If you think you might end up paying more child support or alimony than you can afford, you should understand how Texas law will likely be applied in your unique circumstances.

Helping Clients Find Financial Stability After Divorce

To speak with a lawyer about how child support will be calculated under the Texas child support guidelines, or about the possibility of alimony being awarded to you or your spouse, contact us.

Recent Changes to the Texas Child Support Guidelines Increase the Maximum Monthly Child Support Payment

Texas recently passed legislation that changed the child support guidelines, which are used to calculate child support in almost all cases. Child support is now calculated on a percentage of the non-custodial parent's net resources up to a maximum of $7,500 per month. Previously, the cap on income was $6,000. The percentages applied to the support payor's income remain the same (20% for 1 child, 25% for 2 children, 30% for 3 children, 35% for 4 children, and 40% for 5 children).

If your child support order was calculated using the old guidelines, and your former husband or wife is making more than $6,000 per month, you are eligible to ask for an increase in child support. If your divorce was done years ago, you may not be receiving all of the child support you are owed. This change in the law may be a good reason to come back to court and ask for a modification of the original child support order.

When Is Spousal Maintenance (Alimony) Awarded in a Divorce?

In Texas, temporary spousal support is deemed appropriate if a spouse is unable to support him or herself and the spouse is used to a particular living standard during the marriage. If a spouse demonstrates financial need at a temporary hearing — based on monthly costs for the house, car, children, utilities, groceries and other living expenses — the court will probably award temporary support or alimony while the divorce is pending. After a divorce, the court may award alimony to a spouse after considering a number of factors, including the length of the marriage and the income, education, training and health of both husband and wife. Spousal maintenance after the divorce may be in the form of a lump sum payment, the gifting of a house, or permanent spousal support.

Enforcement of Contractual Alimony vs. Statutory Maintenance

The law in Texas regarding the enforcement of alimony orders is complicated and has undergone several recent changes. The legislature passed a maintenance statute allowing the courts to order spousal maintenance for up to three years if a spouse is disabled, is caring for a disabled child, or does not have the ability to earn enough to care for himself or herself. The Texas Supreme Court has held that maintenance awarded under this statute can be enforced by a contempt action. This means that if the spouse ordered to pay statutory maintenance fails to pay they can be imprisoned after being found in contempt of the court's orders. A contempt action cannot be used to enforce the payment of contractual alimony — even if it was ordered by the court.

If alimony or maintenance is involved in your divorce, it is important that the divorce decree is drafted correctly. If you want the ability to have a spouse thrown in jail if they don't pay alimony, you must be very specific on the dates and amounts of support payments and the type of enforcement that can be pursued in case of non-payment.

The lawyers at Diana S. Friedman, P.C. understand Texas law regarding child support and alimony. We know how to establish initial child and spousal support orders, enforce payment of alimony and child support and seek modification of child support and spousal support.

For more information about child support and alimony, please visit our Texas Divorce Practice Center. For expert legal help with your child support or alimony matter, contact GoransonBain, PLLC.

We represent clients in divorce and other family law matters in the Dallas Fort Worth (DFW) metropolitan area, including Dallas, Collin, Denton, and Tarrant Counties, with particular emphasis on clients in the Park Cities, University Park, Highland Park, Southlake, Plano and McKinney.

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