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Common Confusions about Custody Rights and Child Support

Parents often mistakenly believe that paying child support entitles them to custody rights or vice-versa. For example, sometimes a non-custodial parent believes that denied visitation justifies not making a support payment.  Or a parent might think that if he or she provides more custodial services in caring for the child, that this custodial service justifies paying less child support.  However, child support and custody are separate issues and not interrelated under Texas statutes.  The Texas Family Code does not allow for parents to make support payment changes on their own without obtaining court approval.

Legal procedures exist for modifications

The courts understand that relationships and circumstances change, and consequently parents can request modifications of existing court orders to reflect such changes and meet their needs.  However, parents do not have the right to not comply with an existing court order simply because it is no longer relevant or correct for their situation.  The parent who wants modification must go through the legal system and have the court formally change the order, even if the arrangement was originally a voluntary agreement worked out between spouses.

Parents must provide support for children until they are 18 years of age, graduate high school, or are emancipated through marriage.  A child’s death would also end child support.  Parents must adhere to whatever arrangement the court works out for payments, whether periodic, lump sum, through annuity purchase, through a trust, or by setting aside property.  Only the court can revise support and custody orders.

For answers to questions about custody and support, or for help with modifications, contact a Texas family lawyer.  Agreements between parents regarding custody or child support, even if in writing, are usually not enforceable by the courts. The court must approve any change in custody or child support.

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Robert Reid McInvale
Attorney at Law

Robert Reid McInvale is an experienced family law attorney with a comprehensive practice in Houston. He provides dedicated and strong advocacy for his clients, helping them with all the issues surrounding their divorce, separation, child custody, and other marriage and family matters. Attorney McInvale—Reid to clients and friends—seemed destined for a law career. Born while his father was attending Emory University Law School, Reid grew up in Manchester, GA. His father was the city attorney for many years, as well as head of the Manchester Chamber of Commerce. It is in the family blood to become lawyers and help people get justice. U.S. Supreme Court Chief Justice John Marshall is part of the McInvale family tree.

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