Dallas Child Support Attorney
In a divorce case, it is critical to ensure that your children’s future is protected. To that end, you want to make sure that your child support arrangement reflects this goal. At Patrick West Law Firm, we work with you to ensure that you have a child support order which adequately provides for your child while, at the same time, making sure that the order is fair to all parties involved. Our firm represents parents in the initial stages of child support determination. We also handle future proceedings such as child support modifications and take enforcement actions against those who do not follow their child support order.
Reaching A Child Support Agreement
Biological and adoptive parents have a legal duty to support their children. This duty applies regardless of whether there is a current court order in place. Sometimes people will not pay support until the court orders them to do so. This may be a mistake depending on your particular situation. Parents are free to reach a support agreement on their own, without court involvement. If the parents are unable to agree, then the court will intervene and establish a child support amount based on a number of factors.
Initially, there must be a determination of paternity if that has not been done prior to the start of the case. As only biological parents are responsible for child support, a DNA paternity test may be ordered. If the results come back positive, the court will judicially establish paternity. Paternity may also be established when a father signs an acknowledgment of paternity, adopts the child in questions, or is married to the child’s biological mother at the time of conception.
Once paternity is established, the court will proceed to determine an appropriate support amount using a set of child support guidelines. First, the court must determine the responsible parent’s monthly income minus certain allowable deductions. Gross income includes income from almost all sources, including salary, overtime, commissions, bonuses, tips, rental income, retirement money and other sources. The parent’s yearly income is divided by 12 to come up with the gross monthly income amount.
After a determination of gross income, the Court will then go through a list of standard deductions to income. These deductions include social security taxes, federal income taxes, and premiums for health insurance, to the extent that they are paid by the responsible parent.
The child support guidelines do place a limit on the amount of support that can be ordered. For example, a parent can only be required to pay up to a certain percentage of their income as support. This is known as the guideline amount. The Court may deviate or change the guideline amount when it appears that this amount will not be sufficient to meet the needs of the child. A parent may request that the court deviate from the guideline amount. Ultimately, it is in the sole discretion of the court to decide if a deviation will be ordered.
A child support order is not always permanent in nature. Parents may request that an initial child support order be modified if there has been a material and substantial change of circumstances since the date of the order.
Some possible examples of a substantial and material change of circumstances are changes in either party’s income, an increase in the needs of the minor child, additional children born to either party, cost of insurance coverage or a change in the custodial schedule. If one or more of these changes are present in your case, you may be entitled to petition the court to change or eliminate your monthly child support payment.
Child support orders extend until the child in question reaches age 18. If the child is still in high school upon reaching age 18, the order continues until high school graduation, emancipation or until the child marries or dies, whichever event occurs earlier. When one of these terminating events occurs, the order is deemed terminated as a matter of law and child support payments no longer apply. If a child is disabled, the rules are a bit different and the court has the power to order support payments for an indefinite or longer duration.
Hire A Dallas Area Child Support Attorney
Whether you are the parent who will be collecting child support or the parent who will be paying, it is important to hire a knowledgeable child support attorney. Your attorney will ensure that you are receiving the support to which you are entitled or paying only the amount that you are legally obligated to pay. Failure to hire an attorney may result in an unfair child support award that does not adequately address all factors of your situation.
The Patrick West Law Firm is ready to help with your Dallas child support case. We serve the Dallas-Forth Worth metro area and surrounding cities and counties, including: Garland, Irving, Richardson, McKinney, Frisco, and Rockwall, as well as other areas of Dallas, Collin, Grayson, Denton, Tarrant, and Rockwall Counties.
To set up an appointment, please contact us at 817-332-2600 or complete our online contact form. We look forward to hearing from you.