Here is the situation. Let’s say that you are still paying child support to your ex for your minor child. However, you have just found out that your minor child is about to be a parent. Do you have to pay child support for your grandchild under Texas law?
First, Let’s Talk About What Stays the Same
Just the fact that your minor child is about to become a parent herself or himself does not change your obligation to pay child support to your ex for your own child. The mere fact of becoming a parent does not make your minor child an adult.
What if my Minor Child Gets Married?
If your minor child gets married, joins the military, or is emancipated by court order, your child support obligation for your own child will end. Usually your child support obligation will end when your child turns 18, or graduates from high school, whichever comes later. If your child has a disability, child support may continue if ordered by the court.
Now, What About my New Grandchild?
You are not required to pay child support for your child’s child. Texas law does not say that you must pay child support to your ex for your grandchild. The law does not require you to pay child support to your grandchild’s other parent. You do not have to pay extra support to your own ex, either.
Who Supports the New Baby?
Under Texas law, even minor parents have the obligation to support their own child.
Wait a Second… I Know Someone Who Pays Texas Child Support For Their Grandchild. What am I Missing Here?
It is true, you may indeed know someone who is paying child support for their grandchild. Here are two ways this can happen:
- Let’s say that your friend “Jim” has a minor son, “Jimmy”. At age 15, Jimmy fathered a child. That child lives with it’s mother, Jimmy’s girlfriend, Sue. Jimmy has been ordered by a court to pay child support. But Jimmy is very young and he just isn’t able to make much money. Grandpa Jim voluntarily pays Jimmy’s child support for him, to help him, to keep him out of trouble with the court, and to help the baby.
- Or, maybe your friend Grandpa Jim has already been part of a court case involving the baby. Jim has been given rights and responsibilities by the court, and is now a “non parent conservator”. Grandpa Jim now has legal rights regarding the baby (such as visitation) and obligations (such as support or medical support).
Families Helping Each Other – Let’s Get Creative
Times are tough and being a teenage parent has its own challenges. Families can work out creative legal agreements that allow extended family members to have visitation, the ability to make decisions, and the obligation to help with child support and medical support. So, some families work these things out on their own, and others request help in doing so.
I Barely Know the Other Side of the Baby’s Family. How do we work this out?
A family law attorney can help you understand your options. Happily, family law mediation can be a safe, non-threatening, non- argumentative way to meet and work out an agreement prior to going to court.
Do we Need to File in Court?
In the case of two unmarried parents, there is usually a court case filed to establish paternity, visitation, child support and medical support. A final order signed by a judge will make sure that everyone knows what is required of them. The case may involve just the two young parents and their child, or it may involve the other family members who are willing to legally step up and help out with raising the child.
Without a court order, family members often fear that someone will move on, move away, or change their mind. Examples: A grandparent worries that if they do not have visitation orders from the court one of the young parents will change their mind about allowing them to see the baby. Or, one of the young parents worries that the other will stop paying child support, or will marry someone else and move far away. Court orders can take care of those worries.
How we Can Help
We have experience with paternity suits, Suits Affecting the Parent-Child Relationship, and court orders involving extended family members working together to raise a child. We can help you understand all the options that you have.