October 17, 2019

Reader Story: Ex-Husband Wants Child Support Offset in Texas

My wife has 2 children from a former marriage.  Her ex just went on SSDI and the kids get $250.00 each from this.  In the past he has only paid $250.00 per month child support and that has come from his new wife paying it, before that he would not pay, now when have been served papers to go to court so he can get this dropped off, they say that the SSDI is enough, can he get this done in the state of Texas?

divorce decreeJonathan’s response: this is a legal question that can best be answered by a Texas lawyer who practices in the area of domestic relations.  A good starting point would be Laura W.  Morgan’s Child Support Guidelines article, which cites a 1997 Texas appellate case (Johnson v. Johnson) that permitted a child support obligor a dollar for dollar offset credit for the Social Security benefit received against the child support obligation.  The justification for such an offset is that auxiliary benefits arise from a claimant’s work and payment into the Social Security system – since these contributions are based on income the claimant should be able to use funds that arise therefrom to offset child support obligations.

Note, however, that the Johnson case was decided in 1997 – over 10 years ago.  Laws change as do court opinions.   I would never go to court and rely on a 10+ year old case without first researching the current state of the law.  Further, state court judges can make their own decisions about offset issues, and about modifications to child support orders.  This is a case in which you should consult with a Texas lawyer familiar with child support issues.

Keep in mind as well that judges make decisions about child support primarily based on what is the best interest of the minor child.  While the non-custodial spouse’s income is a factor, it is not the only factor.