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The Texas Family Code sets out specific guidelines for courts in calculating child support and what the percentage of the obligor’s net resources should be based upon the number of children involved in the suit. The cap on the obligor’s net resources is $7500.00 per month. Even though child support is governed by statutory guidelines, there may be certain reasons why courts would a higher amount beyond the standard child support. In fact, the obligee (parent receiving child support payments) can request additional support and present the reasons for such support. The key is, the reasons for such additional support must be a “proven need.” Now, we have some guidance on how to present evidence of the “proven needs” to avoid any issues at the hearing, or even after.

The 2nd District Fort Worth Court of Appeals recently held in In the Interest of T.A.W., L.J.W., M.M.W., and J.M.W. that when an obligee parent is trying to prove that the obligor parent should pay more child support than what’s mandated by the Texas legislature, then they have to be specific. That is, you can’t just go in with an amount and say this is what he/she should pay. You need to make an itemized list of essential expenses for the child or children and make sure that you separate those expenses from the rest of the family. For instance, you may be remarried and have another child. Be sure to only include expenses for the child that’s receiving the support. And, although you may want to, don’t intermingle any of your expenses either. It will only result in issues down the road. And finally, don’t try to double dip. For example, if you’re already ordered to receive support for the unreimbursed medical expenses, then don’t include prescriptions or things of that nature in the itemized list for additional support.

The Texas Courts of Appeals are going to be very specific now when reviewing the trial court’s reasons for deviating from statutory guidelines, so now you and your attorney at Guest & Gray, P.C. have to provide the specific evidence that would support the trial court’s findings.

If you are a parent of a child or children who attend private school, upon divorce or splitting up with the other parent, you might be flying solo now on the high tuition. When determining child support, there are statutory guidelines within Texas Family Code Chapter 154 that govern and it depends on how many children you have and the obligor parent’s (the parent who has to pay) net resources, with a cap of $7500. And, in awarding child support, there are reasons that courts will go above these guidelines and award additional support to the child. For instance, if the child has a disability, then that would necessitate additional support. Now, as a parent of a child who attends private school, you’re thinking “that’s great, because my child needs this education, has been going to this school my entire relationship with the other parent, and so that means our child will get more money.”

However, because of the recent Dallas Appellate Court opinion in In the Interest of M.A.M., private education is not seen as a need that would require a deviation from the statutory guidelines. Meaning, courts are no longer just going to throw that into the calculation mix. The Courts are nervous about straying from the guidelines because they have to show good reason for doing so. This means that you have to fight for it.

Specifically, the Dallas Court put a higher burden on the parent claiming the necessity in that you have to produce evidence that your child needs or would “especially benefit from” the private school education. That will require work by your attorney at Guest & Gray, P.C. who can do comparisons between private and public school, demonstrate through report cards how well your child is doing, etc. Thus, it can be done, just with a little creativity.