Know Child Support Options in Texas

Although parents are free to enter into an agreement about the amount of child support that will be paid for their children, Texas law provides a mathematical formula to calculate the amount a noncustodial parent will owe in child support. Negotiated Divorce provides its clients a simple-to-use Child Support Calculator to make this determination quick and easy.

The parent who pays child support will be obligated to pay support until the child is 18 years old or graduates from high school, whichever is later. If the child turns 18 before he or she graduates from high school, the child must continue to be enrolled in school and comply with minimum attendance requirements imposed by that school in order for the child support to continue. The child support obligation will end if the child marries, goes into military service, or becomes emancipated by a court order.

The child support obligation may also continue indefinitely if the child is disabled. A child is considered disabled for child support purposes if:

  • The child requires substantial care and supervision because of a mental or physical disability and is not capable of self-support; and
  • The disability exists, or the cause of the disability is known to exist, on or before the child’s 18th birthday.

If you believe you have a child who meets these legal requirements, you should consult with an attorney.

Child support is a percentage of the net resources of the non-custodial parent’s income. The percentage varies depending on the number of children for whom the child support is ordered and the number of children from other relationships that parent is supporting.

Net Resources include:

Net Income does not include:

  • 100% of all wage and salary income and other compensation for personal services (including commissions, overtime pay, tips, and bonuses);
  • interest, dividends, and royalty income;
  • self-employment income;
  • net rental income (defined as rent after deducting operating expenses and mortgage payments, but NOT including non-cash items such as depreciation); and
  • all other income actually being received, including severance pay, retirement benefits, pensions, trust income, annuities, capital gains, social security benefits, unemployment benefits, disability and workers’ compensation benefits, interest income from notes regardless of the source, gifts and prizes, spousal maintenance, and alimony
  • return of principal or capital;
  • accounts receivable
  • benefits paid in accordance with aid for families with dependent children (welfare payments)
  • income of a new spouse

The following items are deducted from net resources prior to calculating child support:

  • social security taxes or non-discretionary retirement plan contributions if Social Security taxes are not withheld (for example, Texas Teachers Retirement System);
  • federal income tax based on the tax rate for a single person claiming one personal exemption and the standard deduction;
  • state income tax;
  • union dues; and
  • expenses for health insurance coverage for the child for whom child support is paid.

What constitutes income and what deductions are allowed for self-employed persons can get quite complicated. If you have questions regarding how much child support would be required under Texas Child Support Guidelines, consult an attorney.

If a person’s income varies over time, a judge might set child support based on the average monthly net resources over a period of months or years.

If a person obligated to pay child support is intentionally unemployed or underemployed, a judge can set child support based upon a finding of what the person could be earning.

If you have any of these unusual circumstances and you can’t reach an agreement on child support, you should consult with an attorney.

How Does the Court Decide Child Support Amount?

Texas has established a formula to calculate what amount a non-custodial parent should pay for child support. If a non-custodial parent’s net monthly income is less than $8550, Texas law has established the following guidelines for child support payments. The amount withheld is based on the net income each month.

  • 20% for one child
  • 25% for two children
  • 30% for three children
  • 35% for four children
  • 40% for five children
  • Not less than 40% for six children

There are other factors a judge could consider when deciding how much child support to order. Equal parenting time with the children usually does not mean that no child support will be paid from one parent to the other. If you plan to have equal parenting time and can’t agree on child support, you should consult an attorney about the the particular court in which your divorce has been filed.

In the event the party paying child support has other children he or she is required to support, the paying party can receive a small deduction in the percentages above. For instance, if a man supports one child from this marriage and one additional child under another court order, child support will be 17.5% of the net resources rather than 20%. The Negotiated Divorce Child Support Calculator will do this calculation for you.

Changed Circumstances

Texas law allows for child support to be changed based on changed circumstances of the children or the parents. The court order setting child support will not change, however, unless a modified order is substituted for the existing order.

NEXT: Now that you are familiar with Texas Divorce Basics, it may help for you to review the different ways to get divorced. Learn more about Texas Divorce Options.

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