How the Courts are Affecting the Parent-Child Relationship: Recent Opinions on Child Support Guidelines and Additional Support

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.

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