In any lawsuit involving a minor child, a decision has to be made about how to meet the child’s financial needs. Usually one parent pays the other parent an amount of money to be used for the benefit of the child and this is called “child support.” Even if the parents are Joint Managing Conservators, one parent may be obligated to pay child support to the other parent.
Child support may be paid by periodic payments, lump-sum payments, an annuity purchase, setting aside of property to be administered for the support of the child, or any combination of these. Child support is paid until:
- The child is 18 years of age or until graduation from high school, whichever occurs later;
- The child is emancipated through marriage, through removal of the disabilities of minority by court order, or by operation of law;
- The child dies; or,
- If the child is disabled, then for an indefinite period.
The Family Code contains rules for determining how much child support a parent should pay. The “child support guidelines” are based on the paying parent’s financial resources less permitted deductions and the number of children who are entitled to support.
Key concepts relating to child support are:
- A court has no authority to order a parent to pay for a child’s college expenses (although sometimes parents contractually agree to pay for a child’s college education).
- Child support can be automatically withheld from the disposable earnings of the paying parent.
- Some parents create customized plans for meeting their child’s financial needs that may or may not include a payment of monthly child support.
- Child support payments are not deductible by the paying party and are not taxable to the receiving party.