One of the concerns many of our clients have revolves around child support. Some people don’t think it’s fair that they have to pay support for a child that isn’t theirs. Our Woodlands child support lawyers can help answer any questions or concerns you may have.
Texas Law Treats Biological and Adopted Children the Same Way in a Divorce
As far as child support is concerned, Texas law looks at biological and adopted children the same way. If a child is legally yours, then it’s your responsibility to care for them. This includes financial, emotional, and familial care.
If you adopted a child from your soon-to-be ex-spouse’s previous marriage, that child is still yours. When you decided to adopt that child during your marriage, you made a commitment. The courts in Texas will expect you to honor that commitment.
What If You Adopted a Child in a Stepparent Adoption?
When people marry somebody with children from a previous marriage, they make a conscious decision to love those children. However, it is another thing entirely to adopt them as your own.
When somebody completes a stepparent adoption, the child’s biological parent must relinquish their parental rights. This means that the child becomes dependent on the new parent. This dependency doesn’t disappear when you decide to get divorced.
What if You Don’t Want Anything to Do With the Adopted Child After the Divorce is Final?
It may sound harsh, but there are times when a spouse wants to cut ties with their wife or husband. When they file for divorce, it is because they aren’t happy. Their hope is to move on once the divorce is final.
Sometimes, this means that the adoptive stepparent chooses to not be involved in the child’s life going forward. It is true that the courts cannot force you to be a part of that child’s life. However, they will demand that you pay child support for the adopted child.
Your Woodlands Divorce Attorney Will Have to Include Child Support in Your Marital Settlement Agreement
When your Woodlands divorce attorney drafts your marital settlement agreement, they must address the issue of child support. Without going into detail, the agreement must state how much child support will be paid to the primary parent.
Most of the marital settlement agreements our Woodlands child support lawyers handle include the following details:
- How much child support will be paid by the non-custodial parent
- Whether support will be paid weekly, bi-weekly, or monthly
- The date upon such child support will become due
- The manner and method in which support will be paid
- Whether support will continue once the child turns 18 or graduates high school
Even if your adopted child is the only child you and your spouse have in common, you will be required to provide financial support.
All Children in Your Family Will Be Protected Equally When it Comes to Child Support
You may be wondering if you have to pay the same amount to your adopted child as your biological child. Your Woodlands child support lawyer will explain that you do get to itemize the support you pay to the custodial parent.
Imagine that you adopted your spouse’s son when you got married. The two of you proceeded to have two more children. If you get divorced, all three children will be entitled to child support.
There will be no breakdown of how much is apportioned to each child. Only the total amount owed per month will be documented.
It Doesn’t Matter How Long Ago You Adopted the Child
It may not seem fair that you’ll have to pay child support until your adopted child turns eighteen or goes off to school. It will likely be more disappointing if you adopted the child in the last six months or a year.
In the eyes of the court, you will be responsible for paying child support until all your children are eighteen years old.
If you adopted your spouse’s child from a previous marriage when they were three, you can expect to pay child support for the next fifteen years.
Can Your Woodlands Child Support Lawyer Do Anything to Avoid Paying Support for the Adopted Child?
Unfortunately, there is very little your Woodlands divorce attorney can do to change your child support amount. The child support requirement will be determined using the Texas “Child Support Guidelines.” It is not something you and your spouse can determine on your own.
The only way you can set aside these guidelines is if you choose to voluntarily pay more than what is required of you. However, the court will not let you dictate how this money is spent. All children deserve to be taken care of equally.
The Law Will Not Support Any Attempt to Avoid Paying Child Support
What our Woodlands child support lawyers usually suggest is that our clients not press the issue when it comes to child support. Simply saying that you don’t want to pay support for one child over another will change the way the judge looks at you.
Rather than risk losing the respect of the judge handling your case, it’s best to simply accept that you’ll have to pay child support for your adopted child. We try to remind our clients that it isn’t the kids’ fault that the marriage didn’t work out. You never want to hold something like that against an innocent child.
The Courts Only Care About the Best Interests of the Child
Regardless of how unfair you may feel the situation is, your Woodlands divorce attorney can only do so much. If they force the issue with the judge, you could end up paying more child support than you currently owe.
For example, imagine that you and your ex agreed on a certain amount of child support five years ago. This amount was based on the child support guidelines. Imagine that now, you make twice as much as you did before.
If the judge orders a new determination of support, it may be a lot higher than what you’re already paying. There is nothing your Woodlands child support lawyer can do to stop this.
Your Woodlands Divorce Attorney Will Do All They Can to Help
Our child support lawyers in The Woodlands understand that getting divorced can be frustrating. Not only is it painful, but it’s also expensive. However, the solution is not trying to avoid paying child support to your adopted child.
While your Woodlands divorce attorney may understand why you feel the way you do, this can damage your reputation in the eyes of the judge. You don’t want your demand regarding child support to cloud their judgment about the other terms of your divorce.
We suggest you contact our office as soon as you’re contemplating filing for divorce. It’s important that you understand what it entails before making any final decisions.