Monday, November 17, 2014

Man complaining of being a "pawn" in a child support case

Question: Child's birth is early 2015. I have supported the mother with financial thioughout the separation. I have been told to stay away which I have concurred. She is planning to take me to court and I have to protect myself and the impending relationship with my child. My concern is the welfare of my child and our relationship. I have even suggested that I would remove myself from the equation. However, I will not be used as a pawn as a payee and not a father. 

My reply:

In order to owe child support the baby must be born alive.  

Basically, in Texas you will be paying child support and you be ordered by a judge to carry health insurance for the child if you are determined to be the bio father. You will also be liable for 50% of all uninsured medical bills.  

If the child ever becomes disabled before the age of 18 then you can be ordered to pay support for the child's entire life! It does not end at 18 if the child is unable to ever support himself/herself.  

So your comment about not being "a pawn" won’t work in front of a judge.  They hear this argument on a daily basis when a bio dad does not want to pay child support.   The judges don’t care whether or not you see your kid -- but you will be required to support it. The Texas Legislature has passed laws about both parents supporting their bio children.  

The Texas Family Code is available on-line for free.  Just google it.

Child support comes BEFORE rent, food, clothing, cars, basically everything.  If you have to sleep on a friend's couch to pay child support then judges expect you to do whatever it takes to pay your child support. 

Until the child turn 18, a judge can threaten you with jail.  After 18, you can no longer be jailed but you owe the monetary debt. 

Child support is the debt that never goes away – at 6% interest.  It is not dischargeable at bankruptcy, you can lose your passport, driver’s license and/or any professional license you have obtained.  You can be jailed for 6 months, your credit rating will be ruined, and it will eventually be subtracted from your social security check if you don’t pay it before you retire. The TX A G can intervene in any inheritance you might be entitled to in the future.  Even when the kid turns 18 the debt remains — I’ve had 2 phones this past month involving kids in their 30’s with dads that still owe child support. 

Pretty soon you are paying interest on the 6% interest.  It grows every month.  

The good news is that the TX legislature reduced the interest rate from 12% to 6% because at 12% the amount of money grows quickly. 

So what do I recommend?

1.  Consultation with a family law attorney in your area immediately to discuss the facts of your particular case -- every case is different -- after 25 years of practice I have never had the exact same case two times.  You can call me if you live in the Houston area or a county around Harris County.  I charge $250 per hour for a face-to-face consultation or look on for help.

2.  Do nothing and see what she does.  Be advised that the TX A G or the mother can ask a court to order retro-active child support up to 4 years.  It used to be unlimited so the Texas Legislature does occasionally make pro-father laws.  

If she ever collected any state or federal aide (like insurance or WIC, or food stamps), then the TX A G will come after you.  It will take 2-3 years.  Their forms are horrible and very un-father friendly.  Please don’t set foot in their office without an attorney!  (One guy over paid his child support by $300 a month for 3 years because of a typo -- yes a typo!— his wife knew it all along and just laughed when I caught it — he could not get any money back — too late to fix it.) 

3.  Hire an attorney to file a paternity action (and DNA testing) after the baby is born and set up short frequent visits and address your support obligations.

Ask for joint managing conservatorship with a residency restriction.  Ask for liberal "rights and duties" so make parenting decisions regarding the child.  Don't let Mom have all "independent" rights or she never has to consult with you regarding the child.

4. After you get permanent orders, if Mom won’t or cannot cooperate then you need to have money readily accessible to hire an attorney to file contempt on her.  Judges expect parents to co-parent together.

5.  If you cannot communicate then the judge will order you to communicate through - it's approx. $100 a year for each of you.  The judge can look at your communications & determine how the communications problems are occurring. 

These are the basic options you have available.

I would cut her some slack.  She is pregnant and hormonal.  Be gentle with her since stress can harm the baby.  

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