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Do I have to pay child support, while I have district court conditions of release orders for juvenile son to be in my custody?

Dallas, TX |

Mother has primary residence and I standard visiting, however we have never gone by that it's always been at least 50/50. Son was arrested and detained. At the detention hearing court wanted him released to my custody and he is ordered to be at my adress from 8pm-7am every day as well A's other rules. Judge made a point of telling spouse this district court order trumps the family court divorce decree. But I didn't know if that applied to child support. It would not make sense to pay since he is with me at all times and I am paying for counseling/attorney/court fees living expenses ect.

Attorney Answers 3

  1. The judge is right about his order superseding the family court order. The problem with that is that his order only addresses custody, not support. If you want to have the support changed, that shouldn't be a problem, but you're going to have to file for a modification of the existing order to be able to do that. If even on a normal basis, your son's with you half the time, doing that might be a good idea anyway. You should be able to get it set up so that there are temporary provisions in place that will only apply while the juvenile case order saying he stays with you all the time is in effect, and then switching over to something that would reflect your usual custody situation once that ends.

  2. The Juvenile Court Order does supersede the District Court divorce decree but, only as to custody. Where the Juvenile Court Order is silent the divorce decree is still controlling. That includes paying child support even though, under current circumstances, that does not make much sense. To be sure you are not in violation of your divorce decree, the safest course of action is to petition for a change in those orders to reflect the new circumstances. If the Prosecutor's Office files formal court charges against your son, those charges will have to be settled. If your son pleads to or is found to have engaged in delinquent conduct, the Juvenile Court will be called upon to make a disposition in the case. That disposition will include ordering where the child resides. If the Court orders that your son remain with you, your current circumstances could continue for months into the future. The need to petition to change your divorce decree might be even more pressing then.

  3. Yes, you still have to pay support.

    However, if your son is going to be with you for long, you should file a petition to modify and seek a temporary order that abates your obligation to pay support while your son is with you. In your petition, ask that child support be abated from the date that you filed the petition. After you file the petition, get a court date for a hearing on your request for temporary orders. Once you have the court date, have the other parent served (the district clerk can serve the other parent by certified mail OR by constable).

    No attorney can or should advise you to do anything except follow the orders of the court. And the orders tell you to pay support. It is also true that if you stop paying support AFTER you file your petition, even if the AG or the other parent brings a suit for enforcement, the judge can offset any arrearage that accrues for the months the child was with you. That is akin to playing chicken with a train engine while you're on a skateboard, but, depending on your financial circumstances and the temperment of the judge, it could be excusable behavior.

    I am very familiar with the courts in Dallas County and can tell you that they take chlid support obligations very seriously. Your best play is to hire a good family law attorney, shove this through the system quickly, and stay on the right side of the law.

    Good luck!!

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