On behalf of The Law Offices of Mary Ann Beaty, PC posted in Child Support on Thursday, December 8, 2016.

The process involving child support is not as cut and dry as you may think. Although child support is a legal obligation regardless of circumstances, Texas courts examine many general and individual factors to decide which parent pays and how much. Therefore, each case is different. This can make it difficult to understand how child support works. One of the most misunderstood aspects of it is what the money covers and how the obligee (parent receiving the payments) can use the money.

What does child support cover?

The purpose of child support in Texas is to cover the child’s basic needs at minimum and continues until the child is eighteen and graduated from high school, unless the child marries, becomes emancipated or dies. Basic needs include food, clothing and shelter. Child support money can go toward bills such as the mortgage and utilities because these are relevant to providing housing for the child.

Not all states require medical child support, but Texas does. The parent who does not have primary, or any, custody of the child must use government programs or private insurance to provide health coverage for the child. If this is not possible, the parent must pay the other parent to insure their child. They both are equally responsible for any medical expenses the insurance does not cover, including copays and deductibles. However, they can agree to a different arrangement if they desire to do so.

What does child support not cover?

Generally speaking, things such as extracurricular activities, vacations and college tuition do not factor into the calculation of child support. However, the obligee can spend child support money on these things if there is enough. As long as the money goes toward benefitting the child, it is not a misuse of funds, because Texas does not put restrictions on how a parent can use child support.

Parents also have the option to decide to work out arrangements for these areas or ask the court to include them for specified reasons. Furthermore, either parent can request the court to modify the order whenever there is a change in circumstances. These may include the following:

  • New living arrangements for the child
  • Increase or decrease of income
  • Remarriage
  • Incarceration
  • Military deactivation
  • Changes in health care coverage

Modifying child support can be a complex process. Parents who wish to modify or oppose modifications to child support may benefit from the services of a Texas family law attorney with experience in handling child support issues.