What Are the Circumstances Where You Can Avoid a Child Support Obligation?
Your marriage has ended and you’re headed toward divorce, or your marriage has already been dissolved. There are minor children from the marriage and, while you embrace your obligation to provide for them, you want to be certain that the amount you’re paying is fair. If you’re evenly sharing physical custody, it may seem that child support is unnecessary. Can you get a divorce order in Texas without any requirement that either party pay child support? If you’ve already been subject to a child support order, but it doesn’t appear necessary anymore, can you petition the court to terminate the obligation? The answers are “yes” and “yes.”
What Is the Purpose of Child Support in Texas?
First, let’s be clear about the terms that Texas uses to describe what other states call “custody” and “visitation.” In Texas, they are referred to as “managing conservatorship” and “access.”
In most divorces, the order identifies one parent as the “custodial” parent (or “primary conservator” in Texas). Typically, any children subject to the divorce order will spend most of their time at the home of the primary conservator and will visit the non-custodial parent, commonly on weekends, alternating holidays and perhaps an evening each week. Because the children physically spend most of their time with the primary conservator, it’s assumed that most of the expenses associated with raising the children—food, shelter and clothing, etc.—will be incurred by the primary conservator. For that reason, the court generally orders the non-custodial parent to pay some child support, so as to defray the costs.
When Can You Avoid or Terminate Any Responsibility for Paying Child Support in Texas?
The most common reason for ending a child support obligation is that the child becomes a legal adult. Under Texas law, when your child turns 18, even if he or she still lives with the other parent, you can file a request with the court to discontinue the support obligation. Under the Texas Family Code, because the child is a legal adult, capable of making legal and financial decisions, the child has the potential to be self-sufficient.
You can also petition the court to terminate a child support obligation when your child graduates from high school. Most judges will have such an order go into effect on the latter of those two dates.
Other Ways that You May Be Able to Avoid or Stop Paying Child Support
There are a number of other situations where a child support obligation may be terminated:
- The child becomes legally emancipated, no longer living in the other parent’s home
- You can establish through a paternity test that you are not the biological father of the child
- You have a medical emergency that prevents you from working
- Your child has failed to comply with state laws governing enrollment and attendance in school
Contact the Proven Family Law Attorneys at Bailey & Galyen
At the law office of Bailey & Galyen, we understand challenges you can face working out child custody and support arrangements that are fair to everyone. We offer a free initial consultation to every client. To speak with a compassionate and dedicated divorce and family lawyer, with the skill and knowledge to defend you against cybercrime charges, contact us by e-mail or 844-402-2992 call our offices at one of the convenient locations listed below. We will take your call 24 hours a day, seven days a week.