Child support is usually thought of as monthly payments for the benefit of a child. There are different types of child support that may be ordered by a court, depending on the age of the child and the circumstances of the person who pays child support. The law refers to the person who pays child support as an “obligor” and the person to whom child support is paid as the “obligee”. This article will address different kinds of child support such as current child support, retroactive child support, medical support, uninsured medical expenses and child support arrearage. Child support is more complicated than simply a monthly payment.
Current child support is an amount ordered by court to be paid by the obligor to the obligee, because the child primarily resides with the obligee. The court orders child support to be paid on a date certain in an amount certain to the parent who has been awarded the right to receive child support and usually the right to determine the primary domicile of the child.
Child support in Texas is calculated on the net resources of the person paying the support (the “obligor”), taking into account the health insurance and how many children the obligor has a duty to support. No, the person paying the health insurance does not get a dollar for dollar reduction from child support for the cost of the health insurance. For example, if there is only one child, the calculation is 20% of the net resources. There are IRS charts that are incorporated into the Texas Family Code from which the net resources are determined from a person’s gross monthly income. Then, the cost of the health coverage for the child only is subtracted from the net resources. Lastly, the 20% calculation is made from there. Currently, the child support guidelines are applied to the first $8550 of the obligor’s income. There may be other factors to be considered for your situation.
In a case where the child has NOT been living with both parents since birth, the court has the discretion to order retroactive child support back as early as the birth of the child. As an example, consider a child that is born in December 2017, who then lives with the mother, Jane. In this example, the father, Jack attended prenatal medical appointments with Jane, was aware of the pregnancy and was looking forward to the birth of the child. For whatever reason, Jack and Jane stop talking to each other and a year passes after the baby is born. For purposes of this example, Jack is definitely the father of Jane’s child. Jane sues for child support a year later in December 2018. The court in a case like this has the flexibility to order child support back to the birth of the child. This means the court could order all or none of the past child support be paid from Jack retroactive to the month of the birth of the child. The court could order retroactive child support for a few months, all of the 12 months or none. Logistically, a retroactive child support order is usually a lump sum calculated by the amount of child support Jack would have paid if he had paid appropriate child support beginning in the month of the birth of the child, based on his income at the time. More specifically, if Jack earned income that would calculate to $750 per month of child support, based on his income at the time of the birth of the child, and the court ordered child support back to the month of the birth of the child, for the period of January 2018 through December 2018, the court has the jurisdiction and the discretion to order Jack to pay $9000 in retroactive child support. If Jack cannot pay the entire amount of $9000 immediately, the court would order the retroactive child support award to be paid in a monthly amount in addition to his current child support of $750. Additionally, any retroactive child support judgment would bear simple annual interest of 6%.
Child support arrearage is an amount of money that the court can determine is owed because the parent ordered to pay child support has failed to pay as ordered. So consider Jack in our example, who was ordered to pay $750 per month in an order effective December 15, 2018. If a hearing were held in February 2019 to determine the child support arrearage for this obligor parent, the family court judge would most likely determine child support arrearage in such a situation to be a total amount of $1,500. Additionally, the child support arrearage judgment would bear simple annual interest of 6%. Jack would then be obligated to pay his monthly $750, plus a payment on his child support arrearage on a monthly basis.
Incidentally, if Jack were to die before the child support obligation ended, as in before the child graduated from high school, or he had not paid all of his child support, then Jane or the child could make a claim against his estate for the any amounts owed.
Medical support for a child is considered to be additional child support. Jack in our earlier example is ordered to pay monthly child support. The Texas Family Code contemplates that a parent paying child support is also obligated to pay for the health insurance premiums for the child. So for our example, assume Jack’s health insurance available through his employer costs $300 per month for the insurance for the child. Jack would then be ordered to pay $300 per month in addition to his ordered child support.
Furthermore, child-support generally includes uninsured medical expenses, meaning each parent is obligated to pay and would be ordered to pay 50% (usually) of the uninsured medical expenses of the child. Uninsured medical expenses include over-the-counter medications, prescriptions, and doctor office visit co-pay fees. In Jack’s situation, if he had not seen or supported the child for a the baby’s first year of life, Jane would have had to have incurred uninsured medical expenses. Let’s assume the amount was low for a healthy baby, and is determined by the court that Jack owes $500 in uninsured medical expenses.
Consequently, Jack in our example could be subject to an order for current child support of $750 per month, plus a monthly payment on a determined amount of retroactive of child support, plus an amount toward a child support arrearage (if he was behind on current child support), and medical support in the form of the health insurance premium for the child, as well as a determined amount of uninsured medical expenses, if any.
Here, continuing this scenario, for purposes of our example only, Jack’s monthly obligation would be calculated by adding all of these numbers:
- Current child support $ 750
- retroactive child support $ 100
- child support arrearage $ 100
- uninsured medical expenses $ 100
- medical insurance premium $ 300
Meanwhile, any remaining balance due on any of these categories of child support that Jack continues to owe would accrue simple annual interest of 6%. The take away here is that it is easy to get behind in a hurry, and stay there.
Consequently, child support is more complicated than just the monthly ordered payments from one parent to the other. If you have questions about child support please contact me through this website here to discuss it.