Do Texas Child Support Guidelines Discourage Equal Parenting?
Fort Worth child custody lawyers and Tarrant County Family Court Judges have always held the belief that application of state mandated child support guidelines found in Texas Family Code Chapter 154 was nothing more than a “math problem.&rdquo But with a trend towards truly equal parenting time, are Texas child support guidelines obsolete?
Unlike some states, Texas child support guidelines are predicated on the notion that one parent, typically the mother, is going to be the primary caretaker of the child and that the other parent, the father, is going to have less possession time and, most likely, play a secondary role in child rearing. Based on these assumptions, the paying parent, or Obligor, pays a percentage of his net resources to the primary parent, or Obligee, as child support.
Also, under the old, standard Texas divorce paradigm, the non-primary parent would have parenting time according to the Texas Standard Possession Order found in Texas Family Code Chapter 153. Such a schedule limited parental access to alternating weekends with possibly an overnight visit during the week.
So, we had had a generation of Texas parents paying the guideline child support and “visiting” according to the Standard Possession Order.
And then, things began to change
Backed by volumes of psychological research on the emotional well-being of children of divorce, parents, courts and even family law lawyers grew to understand that equal participation and possession by both parents produced children who were psychologically healthier and happier in the wake of divorce. Suddenly, non-primary parents were seeking to be actual parents to their children and not just detached visitors.
They began to ask for more parenting time than allowed by the Standard Possession Order, and with increasing frequency, they got it! Now we see more parents who share their children according to a week-on, week-off schedule or a 2-2-3-3 possession schedule.
But what about child support? Where possession times are equal, or almost so, is it right that the same old child support guidelines enacted twenty years ago be applied? In other words, if you have your children half the time and are paying their expenses when they are with you, should you still have to pay your former spouse child support?
At Schreier and Housewirth Family Law, we are helping our clients to think outside the box, and when we appear with our clients in Tarrant County Family Law Court, we are helping our Judges to think outside the box, too. While every parent knows that raising children is expensive and that some provision must be made for their care and support, rote application of the Texas child support guidelines should be a thing of the past.