Wednesday, July 12, 2017

Enforcing Child Support Part 1- Introduction

Today, we begin what will be a multi-part exploration of the law in Texas on child support enforcement.  With divorce statistics on the rise (albeit not as steep of a climb as in the past), and with more incidents of people have children out of wedlock, the topic of to what degree children continue to receive financial support is never more timely.  Unpaid child support due nationally totals $37.9 billion; with only 62.3% of that amount being paid on time.

The factors that impact whether child support is paid in a timely way are both familiar and surprising at the same time.   One factor impacting child support collection is income and education level.  According to national statistics, parents with a college degree were more likely to pay full payment of child support obligations than those without a bachelor's degree or higher.  Considering that in Texas, support is calculated at a set percentage based on net resources with a minimum and maximum income caps, this factor is somewhat surprising.  Also as the new generation of parents are one of the most over educated and under employed in history, the presence of a degree increases the probability of, but does not necessarily equate to higher income.

Another more surprising factor is the impact that ordered custody arrangements have on the payment of child support.  Statistics show that parents with joint custody pay child support on time more than parents who have sole managing conservatorship orders.  This supports what many people who work in family law have observed - parents are more likely to pay their child support when they have frequent contact with their children.  This is definitely something to think about when custody orders are initially put in place by individuals or by government agencies like the Attorney General's Office.  Child Support Orders are often put in place by default and basically, the custodial parent can dictate whatever visitation schedule they want in that situation.  It may be short-sighted in those situations to insist on an unreasonably restrictive visitation schedule that will discourage the non-custodial parent from exercising their visitation.  Aside from the presumption that in most cases (though not all) it is in the best interest of the children to have as much contact with both parents as possible, a custody order that fairly encourages non-custodial visits appears to also increase the odds of the non-custodial parent ultimately paying their child support in a timely manner.    

Source: Custodial Mothers and Fathers and Their Child Support