Unlike child and property issues, issues of child support and medical support are
not at all complex. With child support, there is a formula that dictates the amount
paid by the non-custodial parent to the other parent. This formula is based on gross
income (reduced by certain statutory deductions to a number that approaches net
income after taxes), the number of children covered by the order with regard to
which support is being paid, and the number of other children, if any, that the
non-custodial parent is being ordered to support under separate orders.
In the simplest case, a non-custodial parent with one child the subject of the case
and no other children, the non-custodial parent will pay twenty percent of “net
resources” (gross income less statutory deductions). This percentage goes up five
percentage points for each child until it reaches a maximum of thirty-five percent
at four children.
Unless the non-custodial parent is self-employed, or is employed out of state by
an employer not subject to the jurisdiction of the Texas courts, a withholding order
will almost certainly be issued, resulting in child support being withheld from the
non-custodial parent’s pay check; paid directly by the employer through the State
Disbursement Unit, which is also the case of child support paid by the parent directly,
rather than through withholding.
Child and medical support can be claimed, in arrears, for up to four years previous
to the filing date of a divorce or a paternity action.
Medical support is additional paid by the non-custodial parent as additional child
support. There are two principal components to medical support. The first is medical
insurance. Each child must be covered by medical insurance, whether provided by
the custodial or non-custodial parent and whether it is employer provided or non-employer
provided private insurance. The second is expenses not covered by insurance. Generally,
the non-custodial parent either provides the medical insurance for the child at
his of her sole cost or, alternatively, reimburses the custodial parent for the
cost of the premium. Out of pocket expenses, not covered by insurance, are generally
shared equally by both parents.
Texas is a non-alimony state. Absent a voluntary contract for alimony, there is
no concept in Texas of permanent alimony. What Texas does have is temporary spousal
support during the pendency of the divorce action and for up to three years thereafter.
Spousal support is capped and is rarely awarded except in cases of a long-term non-working spouse,
who needs training to reenter the working world, or punitively as punishment of a sort for spousal abuse.
When alimony is agreed to contractually, the payor must be aware that the Court
will generally enforce agreed contractual provisions such as this no matter what
happens in the future. The Court could not have ordered long term or permanent alimony,
but once it is agreed to it will generally not be modified by the Court.