While there are state guidelines to guide how child support works in the State of Texas and while the primary custodial parent – with whom the children live the majority of the time – generally pays child support, there are no absolutes. The court always has the discretion to go outside the boundaries of the state guidelines if it’s deemed to be in the best interests of the children involved. If you have a child custody concern, don’t wait to reach out to an experienced Copperas Cove family law attorney.
A 2019 Case
Consider the specifics of a 2019 case in which the father had the children 70 percent of the time, was considered the primary custodial parent (in a joint managing conservatorship), and was ordered to pay the mother child support. The specifics include:
The parents divorced in 2015, and the mother – who was less financially stable than the father – lived in an apartment.
The mother received an expanded standard visitation schedule.
The father was ordered to pay the mother child support, and he did not appeal the order at the time.
In 2016, the mother remarried, began living in a large new home, and had considerably more net monthly financial resources available to her.
The father subsequently filed for a child support modification based on the mother’s improved circumstances and the fact that the father believed she was intentionally underemployed (on top of the fact that she only had their shared children about 20 to 20 percent of the time).
Ultimately, the trial court involved ordered that the father had to continue to pay child support, but the amount was reduced.
An Appeals Court Weighs In
Upon appeal, the court upheld the trial court’s decision and shared all the following legal points by way of support:
Every parent has a legal obligation to support his or her children financially.
Joint managing conservators are not barred from bearing a child support responsibility (the parents were joint managing conservators).
In determining the amount of child support owed, the court cannot take either parent’s sex or marital status into consideration.
While the father cited his primary custodial status and that child support is intended to help the primary custodial parent maintain an adequate standard of living, the court adopted the view that both joint managing conservators are custodial (a view that is not supported by the Attorney General’s Handbook for Noncustodial Parents).
The upshot of the appeal court’s argument here is that the state’s child support guidelines are not ironclad and that the court can deviate from them if there are specific reasons for doing so that render the deviation in the best interest of the children involved.