The State of Texas – just like every other state – requires both parents to support their children financially post-divorce, and they have a child support system in place to make sure this happens. As with most legal matters, child support is intended to be straightforward but can quickly become complicated. Understanding the basics can help.
Obligor, Obligee, and Other Important Terms
Because it is the law, fancy legal terms are required. The parent who is obligated to pay child support is known as the obligor, and the parent who receives child support is known as the obligee. All decisions related to child support in Texas are guided by official state guidelines. Very generally, if one parent becomes the primary custodial parent with whom the children live primarily, he or she becomes the obligee, while the other parent becomes the obligor.
The Duration of Child Support
Barring mitigating circumstances, the child support obligation ends when the child either turns 18 or graduates from high school (whichever happens later). If a child marries before the age of 18, the obligation is similarly ended. An important exception to this is that, for children with serious physical and/or mental disabilities, child support may have no end date.
The Calculation Process
The state guidelines dictate how child support is calculated, but the court has discretion in the matter and can take wide-ranging factors into consideration. It is important to note that when the court makes decisions related to child support – or anything else that has to do with children – it always takes the best interests of the children into account. As such, anything the judge involved in the case deems relevant can play a role in how child support is calculated, but the following represent the basic factors that guide the court’s decisions on matters related to child support:
The ages of the children involved
The needs of the children involved, including any special needs
Each parent’s financial ability to contribute (the higher earner is generally the obligor)
The amount of time each parent is responsible for the children
Additional resources that are available to help support the children
The childcare expenses involved
The cost of the children’s healthcare
The State of Texas takes child support obligations very seriously for one very important reason, the welfare of the children involved.