The purpose of child support is to meet the needs of a child including all medical expenses. Receiving and paying for child support becomes more complex when a child is disabled.
For a disabled child, the parent may receive a dependent disability allowance. This may boost the non-custodial parent’s ability to pay for child support.
How Long Do You Pay Child Support For A Disabled Child?
Under the Texas Family Code, parents have to support their child until the age of 18, or when the child graduates from high school and they are no longer a minor.
For disabled children, parents have the obligation to support their child indefinitely until either the child or the parent passes away. However, the courts will carefully consider the type of disability and what the disability does.
Typically the judge will order support for an adult child if they find that either:
- the child had the disability or had special needs on or before turning 18 years old
- the child must have substantial care and supervision and cannot support themselves financially, which will require the parents’ financial assistance
What Happens When A Disabled Child Turns 18?
Most Texas courts will determine that a parent has a duty to support their adult child who is disabled or has special needs, and is unable to support themselves.
The non-custodial parent may be ordered to pay indefinite child support in Texas if:
- The special needs child requires personal supervision and substantial care because of a mental or physical disability. The child is also not capable of self-support.
- The disability existed or was known to exist on or before the child’s 18th birthday
A parent or guardian who has custody of the child may seek a court order through a family law attorney in an attempt to pursue adult child support from the absentee parent. If the judge finds that the child should receive child support, the parent may continue to make payments. If deemed appropriate, the judge may order the parent to pay all child support payments directly to the other parent.
Under the Texas Family Code, the judge will use a needs-based assessment to calculate an appropriate amount of child support given. Before the judge can have a ruling on the adult child support order, they must consider the following:
- The amount of support the child needs for their mental or physical disability.
- The financial resources that both parents have to help an adult child.
- The financial resources that are available for the care and supervision of adult child support.
If parents do not want to continue paying child support, they must prove to the court that the disabled or special needs child can live on their own and earn their own income. Information regarding the child’s life skills and work history may prove that they can live alone.
Do You Get More Child Maintenance for a Disabled Child?
You can usually get more child support for a disabled child or a child with special needs. A parent must provide evidence that their child has a disability to the judge or the child support agency in order to receive child support for their special needs child. Typically, school records and medical documents may be sufficient evidence. You can also use sworn statements about the child’s disabilities.
However, if any of your children are considered to be permanently disabled, they are also likely to be awarded additional financial support in the form of Supplemental Security Income (SSI) or Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI). This provides income to cover their basic living expenses. When the dependent receives disability payments, this may reduce the non-custodial parent’s obligation to pay child support.
How is Child Support Calculated in Texas?
When calculating the child support obligation, the court will generally calculate the amount based on a parent’s net monthly income and the number of children for calculation.
The net monthly income is calculated by taking all gross income and then deducting costs such as taxes and health insurance expenses for your children.
The court will calculate child support using a percentage of your net monthly income, depending on the number of children involved. In Texas, the guidelines for the court to calculate child support obligation are:
- One child: 20% of total net monthly income
- Two children: 25% of total net monthly income
- Three children: 30% of total net monthly income
- Four children: 35% of total net monthly income
- Five children: 40% of total net monthly income
- Six children or more: at least 40% of total net monthly income or more
Receiving Medical Child Support in Texas
The legal system also needs to ensure that your child can receive proper health insurance. Many factors will be considered by the court to determine who will bear the majority of the cost of health insurance for a child who is disabled or who has special needs.
For example, the court usually looks at the quality and cost of health insurance. They will also consider whether any coverage is available at a reasonable cost through a trade association or a parent’s employer.
Can a Child Receive SSDI and Child Support at the Same Time?
Yes, it is possible. The child’s SSDI derivative benefit is included as income for the parent from whom they derive. If they are from the non-custodial parent, then the court will subtract the amount of benefit from the non-custodial parent’s child support obligation.
Can a Child Receive SSI and Child Support at the Same Time?
The SSI is a federal program designed to help the disabled. A child can receive both at the same time.
However, the Social Security Administration (SSA) will reduce SSI benefits by two-thirds of the amount of child support received.
For an adult above the age of 18 or who has graduated high school, the SSA will consider the entire amount of child support as the child’s income. The child support received may exceed the SSA’s income guidelines which would mean the child loses SSI benefits.
That’s why having a special needs trust can be beneficial to yourself and your children. The court can have all future support payments go directly into the special needs trust. As a result, it will shelter your income and enable the beneficiary to retain SSI benefits.
Modifying a Child Support Order
The parent must provide evidence that there has been a sufficient change in circumstances to ask the family law courts for a legal modification. For example, if the adult disabled child can take care of themselves, the court may remove the obligations to cover child support provided that they are no longer a minor and at leats 18 yeras of age.
A court can also adjust future support owed if there are various factors in the case. This may be a change in the custody agreement, a relocation or a job loss.
Schedule Your No-Cost Legal Consultation
Family law issues in Texas can be complex. If you’re looking to receive support for a child with a disability or special needs or to understand your obligations regarding support for an adult child, it’s important to seek help from a qualified attorney.
Let the award-winning Family Law experts at Sean Lynch + Associates law firm help you prepare your legal case. We have years of experience in family law.
Contact us today for a no-cost case review.