Below is some information about calculating child support payments in Texas. If you are facing a child support case on your own, you should always reach out to an experienced child support attorney from a renowned family law firm in Texas.
**Court may alter the support amount for many reasons, including other financial resources available and the needs of the child(ren).
Like many states, Texas law has guidelines to determine child support. Courts rely on these guidelines when ordering one parent to pay a certain amount of child support to the other. The law also sets out provisions for when child support ends and other important matters.
To calculate child support, the court should apply the standard guidelines to the specific circumstances of the parents involved. The law presumes that following the guidelines will be reasonable and in the best interest of the child. Therefore, courts follow these guidelines in most cases due to this legal presumption.
A legal presumption can be rebutted by one or both parents in child support cases. This means that a parent can provide evidence to demonstrate that the standard guidelines are unreasonable given their situation. If a judge finds that following the guidelines is inappropriate or unjust for the parents or child, they can determine support based on different calculations.
Texas law allows a family court to order a parent to provide financial support for a child until one of the following occurs:
For a child who is physically or mentally disabled, a court might order child support to continue indefinitely. If that individual’s disability is removed, the child support order can be terminated.
Generally speaking, the custodial parent (or primary conservator), if that parent spends more than half the time with the child, covers the everyday expenses of raising the child, including food, housing, and clothing. The child support guidelines calculate how much the noncustodial parent will have to pay the custodial parent for support. The guidelines consider the financial resources of the noncustodial parent and the number of children to be supported.
In this case, “income” refers to your net resources each month, not simply your base salary or wages on a paycheck. Income can include many sources, including:
Resources you can leave out of the equation include Social Security Supplemental Security Income, foster care payments, benefits from Temporary Assistance for Needy Families, and your spouse’s income and resources.
Once you determine your yearly income, the court will divide it by 12 to obtain an average gross monthly income. Then, subtract taxes, union dues, and money that already goes to provide dental or medical support for the child. The result of the subtraction is your net monthly income.
It is important to note that a parent cannot limit or avoid child support by being voluntarily underemployed or unemployed. In such cases, the court can impute income to the parent based on the minimum wage for a full-time job or similar calculations.
You should only have to pay support for children who are younger than 18 or still in high school, whichever comes later unless you have a child with disabilities. Your child will also be ineligible for support if they join the military, get married or seek legal emancipation. The number of eligible children you have is a significant factor in child support calculations.
Your child support will be a percentage of your income, which is based on the number of children you have. The guidelines also account for other children you might be supporting with another support recipient.
If your net monthly income is $1,000 to $9,200, and you have no other children with another parent, the following percentages apply:
The percentage decreases with each additional child you have with another parent.
If you have income higher than $9,200 per month, the court might ignore any additional income. However, the court might also deviate from the guidelines and order increased support based on the child’s usual standard of living.
You will take the net monthly income you calculated and multiply it by the applicable percentage. If you have $5,000 in monthly income and you have three children, your ordered support will likely be $1,500 per month (30 percent of $5,000).
Support does not always have to be paid monthly, however. The court can order someone to pay a lump sum or pay on a different schedule than once per month.
Always discuss all of your options with your child support attorney, as there might be creative solutions that work better for your situation.
Usually, the custodial parent who possesses the children most of the time will receive support. However, what happens when parents share possessory rights equally? Who receives or pays support?
The court has options regarding child support arrangements for 50/50 possession, including:
1. If the parents have similar net monthly incomes, there might not be any support ordered.
2. The judge can order each parent to cover all regular expenses for the child when they have possession and then split larger expenses (such as school tuition) evenly between the parents.
3. The judge might determine how much each parent might pay in support if they were the noncustodial parent and have the lesser-earning parent receive the difference in support obligations.
While the guidelines are intended to standardize child support calculations, not every situation is standardized. Always speak to your child support lawyer about your options if you have unique circumstances that might fall outside the traditional child support guidelines.
Many parents seek child support orders during a divorce case. However, child support might arise if one parent establishes paternity or if two unmarried parents decide not to live together any longer. If you are not married to the other parent, you can apply for child support through the Child Support Division of the Texas Office of the Attorney General (OAG). You can discuss your rights to child support with an experienced family law attorney.
If your child’s parent is not paying the support they owe, the OAG can also assist you with the enforcement of your child support order. The Child Support Division has methods of collecting support from parents who are unwilling to pay.
Circumstances change over time, and financial changes can render compliance with a child support order unreasonable or impossible. Either parent can petition for a modification from the family court that issued the support order. The petitioning parent must show that a substantial change of circumstances affects their ability to make ordered payments or changes the child’s need for support. Always discuss your modification options with your child support lawyer.
The legal team of Kirker Davis LLP handles all types of child support matters – from relatively straightforward calculations to complex situations involving deviations from the guidelines or creative payment options. If you have a child support matter, do not wait to contact us for a consultation today.