Child support guidelines and laws in Texas are complex and confusing. If you have children and are in the midst of a divorce, you might be calculating child support payments whether you’re the custodial or the non-custodial parent. In Texas, when we are speaking of child support the person who has primary custody of the children receives child support is called the obligee, and the person who pays child support is called the obligor.
How Does The Court Calculate Monthly Child Support?
There is no specific rule that determines the answer to the question “how much is child support in Texas.” Rather, family law courts use guidelines and information specific to the couple involved, such as the number of children involved, the income of the non-custodial parent, and so forth.
Texas child support guidelines state that the non-custodial parent, or the obligor, must provide financial support for the child through the age of 18 or upon graduation from high school, whichever comes later. Exceptions to this can be as follows:
- A child becomes emancipated
- A child is or becomes physically or mentally disabled
- A child gets married
- A child dies
Physical or mental disabilities may require that child support is paid for the child’s lifetime. A child support amount is based on the gross income of the obligor federal and state withholding for taxes and FICA, health insurance, and union dues.
A child support obligation amount begins at 20% for one child and maximizes at 40% for five or more children. Sometimes, the court may issue a support order for both parents, and, at its discretion, the court may amend support orders if they are inappropriate or unfair. The primary objective of the court is to provide adequate financial support for the children. So how much is child support in Texas? The following information may help you calculate what you’ll pay if you’re the obligor and what you’ll receive if you are the obligee.
What Constitutes Income For The Obligor?
Income includes all forms of employment or income-generating activities, whether it’s wages from an employer, passive income from rentals, royalties, retirement income or pension, or any other type of income. One calculation is used for those making less than $9,200 monthly, and another type of calculation is used for those who make more than $9,200 per month, the legislature changes the amount periodically.
Sometimes, the court will use the value of non-liquid assets such as a hobby car or second home to determine the amount of a support order.
How Do I Use The Texas Support Guidelines?
Calculating the approximate child support you’ll receive from the obligor is possible if you know their gross monthly income.
Income includes, but is not limited to, the following:
- Wages and salaries
- Military pay
- Tips and bonuses
- Severance pay, unemployment benefits, retirement income
- Rental income
- Passive income from investments
- Gifts, prizes, alimony
After you’ve determined the annual gross income, deduct from that number the annual amount paid by a single person for federal and state income taxes, FICA, union dues divide that number by 12 to determine the monthly net income, then the following cost, which is often withheld from a paycheck may be deducted from the gross income to determine the net income on which child support is based.
Expenses include, but are not limited to, the following:
- Mandatory contributions for retirement, including social security payments
- Health insurance premiums and medical expenses
- Insurance and medical expenses for the children
- Union dues
- Federal income tax
By deducting the monthly expenses for these items and subtracting them from the gross monthly income, you can determine the net monthly income that will be used in calculating child support. The number of children involved will also make a substantial difference. The guidelines used for that are as follows:
- One child is 20% of the net income
- Two children are 25% of the net income
- Three children are 30% of the net income
- Four children are 35% of the net income
- Five or more children are 40% of the net income
The court may also use factors that aren’t listed if it determines that it’s in the children’s best interest to use them. Those factors include the needs and age of the children, expenses for child care or special education, the time each parent spends with the children, and so forth. The court’s sole objective is the best interests of the children and how to achieve that.
What Happens If The Obligor Doesn’t Pay Child Support?
If the non-custodial parent is intentionally unemployed or underemployed so that they don’t have to pay child support, then the court can assign an income to them based on the amount that their income should be. At its discretion, the court can also levy fines and assign jail time of up to six months for those who are non-compliant. They can also be ordered to pay court costs and attorney fees for both sides.
If You Need Legal Advice For Your Child Support Case…
If you’re in the middle of a child support case and need compassionate and professional advice, then your first call should be to Vonda Covington at the Covington Law Firm, PLLC. Vonda has been there, so she knows how difficult child support and custody can be, and her creative solutions have helped many couples get through the stress of their breakup.
She’ll help you understand the intricacies of Texas child support laws and help you get through this difficult time. She works with all types of custody cases, including same-sex and transgender families as well as those where the parents are unmarried. If you need help with child support, then contact Vonda Covington today.