Reaching a Child Support Agreement

The process of establishing a child support arrangement can be emotionally exhausting, which is why it is important to partner with a child support attorney. At The Family Law Firm of Donna J. Smiedt in Arlington, TX, we can fully explain the purpose of child support, walk you through the process, and discuss how the court comes up with an order to pay. Donna is a Board Certified Family Law Attorney and she will work closely with you to ensure the best interests of your child are put first.

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We can stand by your family's side and ensure that your child's best interests remain protected.

The Child Support Process

Simply put, child support is paid by the non-custodial parent to the parent with custody. The payments are intended to cover expenses for items your children need, and the amount depends on the specific facts of your case. There are guidelines in place that are used as a starting point, and in some cases, these guidelines are deviated from in order to reach the proper amount of support. 

One thing all child support orders for our Arlington clients have in common is that they are entered for the benefit of the children, but that is where the similarities end. There are several different types of cases where child support is appropriate, such as:

Divorce

When parents divorce and one parent is granted custody, the non-custodial parent will have to pay child support. The needs of the children and the financial ability of the parents to pay are taken into consideration when support is ordered during a divorce. The court will start by looking at the support guidelines and then take any extenuating circumstances into account. The parties should expect to provide their financial data to the court for review during this process. The final order must be followed, regardless of whether the custodial parent allows visitation.

Donna has been practicing since 1986 and will fully handle your legal needs so that you can focus on what matters most–your children.

Many times, the non-custodial parent stops making child support payments when visitation is withheld. However, the correct approach is to continue making payments and file a contempt action with the court. Visitation and support do not go hand in hand, where the parties can refuse support payments for being denied visitation or refuse visitation when payments are not made. In either instance, it is best to contact our Arlington office and explain the situation, so a judicial remedy can be pursued.

Separation

When parents decide to separate, issues regarding custody and support are still made. The same factors that come into play during divorce are also reviewed when parents separate, but the type of lawsuit is different. It is possible to file an action for child support without also filing for divorce. The standard remains the same in these matters as what the parties see in a divorce–that the best interests of the children are the top priority.

Paternity

If you are considering an action to establish paternity, part of that case should include a request for child support. Once the court determines parentage, it is appropriate to seek an award of child support. It is important to remember that a paternity action is about more than just obtaining an award of child support. Establishing paternity also gives the father and child a chance to build a relationship and form an emotional bond that can last a lifetime.

You might also find yourself in a situation where you need the court’s involvement to enforce a support order. If payments are not being made, you do have remedies. Our Arlington firm can help with your child support needs, whatever type of case you are facing.

writing a check

Donna can help determine a child support amount that is feasible for the paying parent while serving the child's best interests.

How Can Child Support Be Used?

Child support payments are intended for the child, and are to be used only for the benefit and care of the child. That said, the recipient is permitted to make the decision as to what the support payments cover, and is not required to keep the payments separate from other funds. Proper use of child support payments includes paying for:

  • Medical and healthcare needs: This might include doctor office visit co-pays, prescriptions medication costs, the employee portion of health insurance provided by an employer, or any other cost associated with the healthcare and medical needs of the child.
  • Educational expenses: Education can include tuition, costs and expenses for tutors, or test preparation courses.
  • Extracurricular activities: These include registration fees for camps, the cost of a sports uniform, entry fees for dance competitions, and the cost of equipment for activities.
  • Utility bills and housing: This could be applied to the mortgage payment, rent, electrical bills, and other costs related to maintaining a healthy home environment.
  • Food and clothing: These basic necessities can obviously be covered using child support as well.

The line can easily become blurred when determining if a parent has used support payments as intended. The test for what is considered proper will center on whether your child benefited from the funds, and if your child’s needs are being met. There is a lot of discretion given to the parent receiving the payments, which can make it difficult for the non-custodial parent to rest assured the payments are being used for a proper purpose. If there is a disagreement or question as to whether support payments are being misused, the payor is not allowed to simply stop paying, rather a motion with the court must be filed and evidence of the alleged abuse presented. 

Why Choose Our Firm?

Donna has been practicing law since 1986 and is a Board Certified Family Law attorney. She has been recognized by the Texas Board of Legal Specialization since 1991. With a full understanding of the issues that often arise in family law matters, our Arlington firm works for you and for your children so that you focus on what matters most.

Contact Us For Help

Let us help you with your child support needs today. We offer an environment that reduces the stress and anxiety that so often accompanies these types of cases, and even have therapy dogs in our office for your comfort. Our Arlington office can be reached online, or by calling (817) 572-9900.

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