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Addressing Texas child support questions

One of the most hypersensitive issues affecting separated and divorced parents in Houston is financial support for children. Child support disputes are not uncommon. The mistake many parents make is taking an action, like stopping payments, without considering the consequences.

For example, a custodial parent may feel visitations can be denied to non-custodial parents who fail to pay support. Cutting off visitations may punish a non-custodial parent in arrears, but children also suffer by being deprived of a parental relationship. Texas family courts deal with these issues separately.

A parent, with or without visitation privileges, can be ordered to pay support. Remember, support is a parental obligation. Visitation statuses do not affect the ongoing needs of children.

Child support orders establish rules parents must follow. Child support modifications are possible, with a court's approval under the proper circumstances. A job loss can be a valid reason.

Unemployed parents often skip child support payments rather than work within the legal system to modify support orders. A better option is to contact the Child Support Division of the state Office of the Attorney General, family court and a family law attorney.

Getting the support modification ball rolling quickly is important -- child support payments do not change until a court approves modification.

Child support modifications are subject to conditions and may be sought by custodial or non-custodial parents. Support orders in effect for less than three years old cannot be changed. Whatever change in circumstances drives you to request modification must qualify as "substantial" - ask an attorney what that word means to a judge.

A failure to pay child support can lead to a contempt charge and possible fines and jail time. Many parents want to avoid conflicts and legal hassles but aren't sure what to do. You can prevent problems by consulting an attorney to understand and resolve child support issues.

Source: Texas Attorney General, "Handbook for Noncustodial Parents" Nov. 26, 2014

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