How the Courts are Affecting the Parent-Child Relationship: Recent Opinion on Proving a “Proven Need” for Deviation from Child Support Guidelines

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.