There are standard guidelines and calculators available to help you determine how much child support you are due to receive or are required to pay in Texas. Keep in mind that these are only guidelines and that there may be exceptions and modifications based on your unique situation. So, it’s always a good idea to seek expert advice on something so critical to your family’s future.
Who Pays Child Support in Texas?
The parent who pays child support is usually the “noncustodial parent,” i.e., the one who spends less time with the child.
The Cost of Child Support in Texas
As per the Texas Family Code, the cost of child support in Texas is based on the net resources of the noncustodial parent and the number of children involved:
- 20% for one child.
- 25% for two children.
- 30% for three children.
- 35% for four children.
- 40% for five or more children.
The Texas Attorney General’s website provides a Monthly Child Support Calculator to estimate the amount of child support payments. This is only an estimate based on a single source of income. The amount of child support in your case may be different based on additional sources of income or other factors.
Calculating Net Resources
According to the Texas Family Code, Chapter 154, the court calculates “net resources for the purpose of determining child support liability.” As per Section 154.062, these resources 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.
- All other income received, including severance pay, retirement benefits, pensions, trust income, annuities, capital gains, social security benefits other than supplemental security income, United States Department of Veterans Affairs disability benefits other than non-service-connected disability pension benefits as defined by 38 U.S.C. Section 101(17), unemployment benefits, disability and workers’ compensation benefits, gifts and prizes, spousal maintenance, alimony, and interest income from notes regardless of the source.
The following are then deducted from the total amount above “to determine the net resources available for child support”:
- Social security taxes.
- 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.
- Expenses for the cost of health insurance, dental insurance, or cash medical support for the obligor’s child as ordered by the court.
- Nondiscretionary retirement plan contributions if the obligor does not pay social security taxes.
Potential Income Adjustments
There are several ways the income of either parent can impact the amount of child support that is set.
The Texas Family Code provides low-income support guidelines for noncustodial parents with low net resources. The reduced amounts are generally 5% lower than the standard guidelines, ranging from 15% of net resources for one child to 35% for five or more children.
If the custodial parent has a significantly higher income than the noncustodial parent, the court may also require a lower amount of child support to be paid.
However, while there is a limit on the amount of child support that can be awarded, the court can order more than the minimum amount for a parent with a high income to meet additional needs, such as tuition.
It is advisable to consult an experienced family attorney to review the details of your specific situation.
Intentional Unemployment or Underemployment
According to the Texas Family Code, Section 154.066, “If the actual income of the obligor is significantly less than what the obligor could earn because of intentional unemployment or underemployment, the court may apply the support guidelines to the earning potential of the obligor.”
The court may order either parent to provide health and dental insurance. If a child has a special medical situation, the court may consider additional expenses.
Other factors may impact the payment of child support, such as the following:
- The managing conservatorship or legal custody.
- The amount of time the child spends with each parent.
- Childcare expenses.
- Special needs of the child.
- Travel expenses for a parent to exercise their visitation rights.
- Alimony payments.
- Education costs.
Modifications to Child Support
Only a court order can change the amount of child support in Texas. A parent can ask for a modification of child support if a substantial change occurs, such as a change in the child’s living or custody arrangements or a change in medical or health insurance needs.
Retroactive Child Support
If a parent has not been paying child support, the court can order retroactive child support to be paid.
How Child Support Is Paid
The Office of the Attorney General of Texas monitors and, generally, pays child support. There are several methods of payment, including electronic payments, payment by check, and payment at designated kiosk locations. In Texas, 80% of child support is paid via wage withholding, which refers to payments deducted directly from paychecks.
Termination of Child Support
The Texas Family Code states that child support generally continues until the child is 18 and graduates from high school or if the child marries, is legally emancipated, or passes away. If a child is disabled, the court may order support to continue for an indefinite period.
The Office of the Attorney General can take steps to enforce child support, including license suspension, passport denial, and filing liens.
If those enforcement measures aren’t effective, the Attorney General’s office can take more extreme measures, including posting photos of Child Support Evaders. It is also possible to serve jail time for nonpayment of child support if a judge finds you in contempt of court.
Your Family First
Even with standard guidelines for the amount, payment, and enforcement of child support, it’s important to work with an experienced family attorney who can review your specific situation to ensure the best outcome for you and your children.
To speak with a family law attorney who cares about families, contact Balekian Hayes PLLC to schedule a consultation.