What Questions Will the Judge Ask During a Child Support Hearing?

IV-D Court – What Happens at a Child Support Hearing

In child support hearing, the judge who will be deciding matters concerning the amount that must be paid regularly for child support will need data in order to come up with a figure that is in the best interest of the child, and that is also fair to both parents. Essentially, the judge will have to know details regarding the child’s needs, the ability of the parents to provide financial support, and the needs of the parents themselves. All these must be balanced—though each state has different guidelines and laws regarding the nature of this balance—to ensure a fair and equitable arrangement regarding the child support amount.

The needs of the child

The judge will ask the parents a series of questions regarding the child (or children) that they have together. These questions include:

  • How old is the child?
  • How much is spent on the child’s food, clothing, and educational needs?
  • How much for visits to the doctor, to the dentist, to the optician?
  • How much for child care, for a nanny or babysitter?
  • Are there other special needs that the child may have, and what are they?

The set of needs of the child is paramount, and each question should be supplied with accurate dollar figures for the judge. The parent must prepare for the child support hearing with exact and if possible verifiable figures as answers to these questions.

Assets and sources of income

Both parents will also be asked about each one’s assets and salaries.

  • How much do you earn in a week?
  • How much do you have on your bank account?
  • What kind of assets do you own, and what are the values of these assets?

The money that will be set aside for the child’s support will come from these sources. Lying, or providing inaccurate or incomplete answers, may be tempting but is not encouraged. Not only will it damage a parent’s credibility in future hearings when the time comes that the child support order will have to be reviewed, but a judge may also find the act of lying as contempt of court which can carry somewhat severe penalties.
The non-custodial parent will come under extra scrutiny, as the payor in the child support hearing. The amount for child support is based on the parent’s potential earnings as opposed to his actual income.

If the judge determines that the parent is intentionally working at a job that pays a lower income when a higher-income job is readily available, then the amount of child support would be based on that higher-paying job. Any hardship as a result of this amount will be considered voluntary on the part of the parent. There are exceptions to this; for example, a good child support lawyer may be able to argue that the higher-paying job may be detrimental to the health of the parent and thus poses a long-term risk to the parent’s ability to pay support.

Parent’s expenses

The parents will be asked about each one’s usual expenses, and child support hearing questions will be asked about the more serious expenses. Emergency medical expenses will have to be proven, and extra responsibilities, such as other children with another person, will have to be verified.

From the answers to these questions, and with the guidelines set by the state, the judge will come up with a figure that the non-custodial parent must provide regularly for the child’s support.

Texas Child Support Law

After the termination of the marriage, ordinarily, one parent becomes the primary custodial parent, while the other parent retains visitation rights and provides financial assistance. Less often, parents sometimes agree to joint custody arrangements in which the child’s time is split equally between both parents. Two major issues often dictate subsequent arrangements:

  • Who gets custody?
  • How much does the other parent pay?

Texas child support laws provide the answers. These two issues account for the bulk of litigation over child support law requirements.

Child Support Law in Houston – Custody

The test used to determine the primary custodial parent almost always turns on the best interest of the child. Historically, since the adoption of the “Tender Years Doctrine” in the late 1800s, mothers are considered more appropriate caregivers for young children than their fathers. But not always. Child support laws and custody rights are balanced upon the court’s inquiry into the facts surrounding each case.

Children who are emotionally mature are usually allowed to testify regarding their preferences. Conversely, parents may agree upon custody terms and courts are reluctant to interfere unless the best interest of the child is compromised.

TX Child Support Law – Payments

The Uniform Interstate Family Support Act requires states to enact child support laws and guidelines for the calculation of support payments. Usually, payments are based on income, as a percentage, which increases for each additional child. The method of calculation and percentages do vary widely from state to state. The definition of regular income, allowable deductions, and mandatory insurance coverage are particularly susceptible to dispute.

The normal practice for family law lawyers is to negotiate all issues simultaneously, with the settlement and agreed final orders dependent on the complete resolution of all outstanding issues. Court approval of all agreements is required.

FAQs about During a Child Support Hearing

What are the guidelines for child support in Texas?

The guidelines for child support in Texas are determined by a formula that takes into account both parents’ income, any medical insurance premiums paid by either parent and the amount of time each parent spends with the child. A court will also consider any additional needs of the child as well as any assets owned by either parent before determining a final child support order.

What happens in child support court in Texas?

During a child support hearing in Texas, the court will ask questions about the level of financial need for the child and both parents’ ability to pay. The court will also determine how much visitation each parent is allowed with the child and may award custodial responsibility or modify an existing child support agreement.

What is the minimum child support in Texas if unemployed?

If a parent is unemployed, the court has the discretion to reduce or eliminate the amount of child support due from that parent. However, the court may still require some contribution from an unemployed parent, such as through volunteer work or providing other services to benefit the child.

Can parents agree to no child support in Texas?

Parents can indeed agree on a voluntary basis to not pursue child support, but it is often wise to get prior approval from a court before canceling any existing child support agreement.

What questions do they ask at a child support hearing?

During a child support hearing in Texas, the court will ask questions related to the financial and custodial arrangements between the parents, including the level of need of the children, each parent’s income and assets, any health care costs associated with the children, and the custody arrangement between the parents.

How long does Texas child support take to process?

Generally, a child support order in Texas will be finalized within 30-60 days after filing all necessary paperwork and attending the child support hearing.

How long do you stay in jail for child support in Texas?

Being behind on child support payments can result in contempt of court charges in Texas. This could lead to fines, probation, or even incarceration for up to 6 months.

What is the maximum child support in Texas?

The maximum amount of child support under the Texas Family Code is based on the combined income of both parents, and typically ranges from 20% to 40% of their combined income depending on various factors such as the number of children involved.

How far behind in child support before you get in trouble in Texas?

In Texas, parents who fall more than 3 months behind in their child support payments can be held accountable in contempt of court proceedings, which can levy fines, community service orders, probationary periods, or even jail time.

Is child support required with 50/50 custody in Texas?

Although both parents have equal rights to access their children in cases where there is 50/50 custody, one parent may still be responsible for paying child support under certain circumstances. The court will evaluate both parents’ incomes and ability to provide financially for the children when making a determination.

What does child support not cover in Texas?

Child support in Texas is intended to provide for the basic needs of the child such as food, clothing, shelter, and healthcare. It does not usually cover expenses related to extracurricular activities or college tuition.

How do I get off child support in Texas?

To stop receiving or paying child support in Texas, a parent must file a Petition for Modification of Child Support and have it approved by a court. The court will then set up a new payment plan or cancel the existing one based on both parents’ current incomes and other relevant factors.