Many couples attempt to reconcile after breaking up or divorcing. Moving back in together can effect a parent’s obligation to provide child support. If the parent who is obligated to pay child support is contributing to the support of the household, he or she may be entitled to a credit for their child-support obligation. In a recent case, a mother challenged a court’s order giving the father a credit against back child support for the period of time when they had lived together with the children.
Child Support Credit After Living Together
In January 2014, the trial court appointed the parents joint managing conservators, ordered the father to pay $890 per month in child support, and ordered him to pay $35 per month against the retroactive child support assessed in the amount of $3,250.
In 2018, the father filed a Motion for Enforcement and Confirmation of Child Support Arrearages, seeking confirmation that he did not owe any back child support. At final trial, the trial court admitted a record showing the child support payments and an arrearage of $32,249.76. The father claimed he only owed about $6,000 because he had lived with the mother and children from March 2014 to January 2016. The trial judge said she would give the father a credit of $18,500, because she concluded he had lived with the mother for 20 months. The court ultimately signed an order stating the father owed $7,263.14 in back child support.
Trial Court Abuse of Discretion in Child Support Ruling
The mother appealed, arguing the trial court abused its discretion because there was insufficient evidence to support a finding the father had lived with her and the children for 20 months. The appeals court noted there was some evidence that supported the implied finding the father had lived with the family and provided support for 20 months. He testified they had tried to get back together and lived together from either February or March of 2014 to January 2016. The mother testified he paid some “marital bills” and bought food during that period. Although the mother gave some testimony that conflicted with what the father said, the trial court’s determination regarding witness credibility and the weight given to evidence receives substantial deference. There was some evidence supporting the implied finding of the trial court, so the mother had not shown the trial court had abused its discretion.
The mother also argued the trial court abused its discretion because the evidence did not support the trial court’s arrearage determination. The evidence showed the father’s arrearage, absent any credit, was $32,249.76. The court therefore gave the father a credit of $24,986.62, which would have been nearly $1,250 per month for the 20 months credit. The appeals court noted there was no evidence to support that credit when the child support obligation was only $890 per month – not $1,250 per month. The appeals court found the trial court abused its discretion in ruling the arrearage was $7,263.14. The court remanded to the trial court for further proceedings to determine the actual amount of the arrearage.
Get Experienced Help to Assist in Child-Support Cases
Child support laws in Texas can often be confusing and being caught in the middle of a complex child support dispute can have devastating effects in your life, both emotionally and financially. The skilled Texas child support attorneys at McClure Law Group can help you navigate through such difficult chapters of life. Call us at (214) 692-8200 to schedule a consultation.