A judge ordered me to make regular child support payments for a kid I never wanted. The state of Texas garnishes a portion of my paycheck each month per child support guidelines. Additionally, I was ordered to pay half of all the health care bills including medical and dental expenses not covered by insurance. When I was notified that my ex-wife had lost our baby to Child Protective Services, I had questions. Do I stop making child support payments if my child is in foster care even if I am the biological father? Is there someone else I needed to pay?
I didn’t know much about CPS or the foster care system. To learn more about how this would impact my child support payments, I called a family law attorney. She explained what happened to my son after he was taken from his mother.
Where Will My Child Live in Foster Care?
I discovered that once my son entered the foster system, he would be placed with adults. I wanted to learn more about where he was and whether I would have to continue to pay child support.
The state pays for foster homes to take care of children involved with CPS. The Department of Family and Protective Services approves these homes and provides training for the adults involved.
What Are The Options For Child Support Services?
If no foster homes are available, your kid will go to a group home. These homes can have multiple children living together.
You may opt to have your child returned to you. That would also mean you no longer have to pay child support. If you never wanted the child, the next best option for your child is a kinship placement. This could include family or friends who agree to have your child stay with them. This is the preferred option in most cases. However, if CPS cannot find any relative or friend that it deems appropriate, then they must place the child in a non-kinship setting.
Will Child Support Stop While My Kid Is In Foster Care?
A parent’s obligation to pay child support does not automatically stop when their child moves into foster care. The only way to discontinue or change the court-ordered amount of child support is to ask a judge to change the child support order. Your circumstances will determine whether or not your request goes through.
In this case, federal and state laws indicate that biological parents still have an obligation to pay child support for their children monthly and provide for them. This applies even if the state has appointed another caregiver who is taking care of the child. The court may issue an order to redirect payments to the state to support the child. Another purpose of paying child support is to pay back any vouchers that the foster parents use to take care of the child.
Often, the children may remain in foster care until state social services determine that parents are fit to raise the children. In some cases, this is until the child is adopted. In cases where the children are adopted, that often means the biological parents’ parental rights and relationship with the children are terminated. You may no longer have a monthly child support obligation to fulfill. However, you still have to pay child support payments for the time that your child is in foster care and any time where your child goes back to the custodial parent to provide for them.
Increased Child Support Obligations
In fact, the court may modify your child support obligation. This may happen if circumstances arise that increase the expenses required to enable your child to live in a comfortable and safe home. Unfortunately, as my attorney told me, increased monthly support obligations can put a strain on a low-income parent and their families. This can increase the time that children spend in foster care as families struggle to make child support payments.
When Can I Stop Paying Child Support?
You are still required to pay support of the amount per month indicated in your child support order. Your liability continues until your children turn 18 or your children seek emancipation. The only exception is if your children are adopted.
Child Support Enforcement
If you have been ordered to pay child support and you do not meet your obligations, state and federal child support enforcement agencies can enforce them. They may order that the state and your employer withhold amounts of your paycheck or tax refunds equal to the child support you are required to pay according to the court order. The state court can also order a lien against your property.
There may also be other consequences such as having to appear in court or being unable to renew driving licenses. On the federal level, you may be denied a new passport if you haven’t been paying child support.
The court can also order a parent to pay retroactive child support to the person caring for the children. This can happen if the father or mother has not been paying the full amount of child support or has owed child support payments.
Understanding Child Support Orders
If you can’t afford the current amount you’re paying in child support, you can petition the court to modify your support orders with a modification case.
According to the Texas Family Code guidelines, the state courts will calculate the net resources that each parent has. This includes their income, assets, and retirement benefits, and excludes expenses and liabilities. The state courts will also consider any Social Security Disability Insurance program benefits. As a guideline, for one child, the non-custodial parent has to pay 20% of their net resources to support the child. However, the courts may order a different amount depending on your circumstances. On top of regular child support, a non-custodial parent may have to provide for half of the dental and medical costs that are not covered by insurance for the children.
Sometimes the child support order will state the conditions for medical and dental support. However, the cost of medical and dental expenses should be reasonable. The court defines this as a cost that does not exceed 1.5% of the parent’s annual resources for dental insurance and expenses. For medical insurance and expenses, this should not exceed 9% of the parent’s annual resources.
Remember that you can’t pay medical or dental support directly to the other parent. The judge will sign a Income Withholding Order for Support which will be sent to the parent’s employer. The employer will withhold an amount of money from the parent’s paycheck and send it to the state child support services agency. Child support services will then forward the money to the other parent.
If you do not want your employer to know about your withholding order, you will need to pay the state child support services agency directly.
Changing Child Support Orders
However, some parents may face the case of losing a job and steady income. Others may be facing circumstances that have drastically reduced their financial resources. They can ask the state court to modify child support orders and reduce the amount of child support that has to be paid. You will have to provide evidence to support your claim.
On the other hand, the state court can also order you to pay more child support. This can happen if you have an increase in income. Another reason is if the cost of housing and childcare for your children has increased.
Contact Us For A No-Cost Case Review
Navigating the choppy waters at the cross-section of CPS, foster care, and child support is a very complex process. You shouldn’t try to navigate the issue of child support payment in foster care alone. It can become a significant obligation when you consider the additional dental and medical expenses of the children on top of regular child support. Your children may also have a medical condition that requires more support.