An important component of any divorce involving shared children is child support. Generally, the primary custodial parent – with whom the children live the majority of the time – receives child support from the parent with the visitation schedule. Because child support is predicated on each parent’s financial ability to pay, however, even if both parents split their time exactly equally with the children, the higher earner typically pays child support to the other parent.
While there is a pervasive notion that child support is intended to cover only the children’s basic needs, this is not its intent. The idea behind child support is to help the children of divorce enjoy the same level of financial comfort (or as close to it as possible) that they would have if their parents had remained married. As such, child support can be used to cover wide-ranging costs. If you have concerns related to child support, an experienced Temple divorce attorney can help.
Child Support Calculations
Child support in Texas is calculated in accordance with state guidelines that take a variety of important factors into careful consideration, including the following:
The number of shared children
The amount of time each parent spends with the children
Each parent’s separate earnings
Any special needs any of the shared children may have
If either parent pays child support for a child of another marriage
While the state’s guidelines are quite exacting, the court has the discretion to deviate from them if there is a compelling reason for doing so.
What Child Support Is Intended to Cover
Child support payments can be used to cover a wide array of child-related costs.
The Basic Necessities
Children naturally need adequate and appropriate food, clothing, and shelter. Because child support is intended to cover these basic needs, child support can be used for paying the recipient’s mortgage or rent and utilities, for example.
Typically, the parent with better employer-sponsored health insurance is responsible for covering the children's coverage. Child support, however, can be used for health insurance payments if neither parent has coverage available through work. Child support can also be used for extraordinary medical expenses that lie outside of health insurance coverage. Often, however, both of these are addressed outside of regular child support payments.
Children's educations are very important. If the children attended private schools during your marriage – or would have upon reaching school age – the court can require that these costs be addressed in the court-ordered child support payments. Alternatively, if you can demonstrate that a change to private school is in your children’s best interests, the court may require your ex to split the expense with you.