Court Reverses $18,000 per Month Child Support Increase for Lack of Findings

The Corpus Christi-Edinburg Court of Appeals reversed a trial court judgment raising the amount of monthly child support from $10,000 to $28,000 per month. The court of appeals recognized that a trial court may depart from the child support guidelines when it modifies the amount of child support to be paid, but if a trial court does so, it must make the child support findings required by section 154.130 of the Texas Family Code,* which the trial court failed to do. The court of appeals also reversed the ex-wife’s attorney’s fee award and remanded that issue for further proceedings. In re J.J.F., No. 13-12-00369-CV (Tex. App. – Corpus Christi-Edinburg Feb. 6, 2014) (mem. op.).

* Section 153.130 reads:

(a) Without regard to Rules 296 through 299, Texas Rules of Civil Procedure, in rendering an order of child support, the court shall make the findings required by Subsection (b) if:

(1) a party files a written request with the court not later than 10 days after the date of the hearing;

(2) a party makes an oral request in open court during the hearing; or

(3) the amount of child support ordered by the court varies from the amount computed by applying the percentage guidelines under Section 154.125 or 154.129, as applicable.

(a-1) If findings under this section are required as a result of the request by a party under Subsection (a)(1) or (2), the court shall make and enter the findings not later than the 15th day after the date of the party’s request.

(b) If findings are required by this section, the court shall state whether the application of the guidelines would be unjust or inappropriate and shall state the following in the child support order:

“(1) the net resources of the obligor per month are $______;

“(2) the net resources of the obligee per month are $______;

“(3) the percentage applied to the obligor’s net resources for child support is ______; and

“(4) if applicable, the specific reasons that the amount of child support per month ordered by the court varies from the amount computed by applying the percentage guidelines under Section 154.125 or 154.129, as applicable.”

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