How is child support calculated in Texas

The child support rate in Texas is based on the paying parent’s net resources.

To get an idea of what child support will be in your case, our skilled Waco, Texas divorce lawyers have summarized the most important rules below. 

You can also use a Texas child support calculator to determine the amount of child support.

Who Is Required to Pay Child Support?

The parent who does not have primary possession of the children must pay child support to the parent who has primary possession. Child support is an obligation that parents have to their children, so child support cannot be withheld even if the paying parent has been prevented from seeing the child.

Child support continues until your child turns 18 or graduates from high school, whichever occurs last. If you have more than one child, the child support will gradually reduce as each child turns 18 or graduates.

If a child is physically or mentally disabled in a way that prevents the child from becoming self-sufficient, the court may order a parent to pay child support indefinitely.

How Is Child Support Calculated in Texas?

To calculate your net income for child support purposes and to calculate the child support percentage, Texas law provides a number of guidelines.

Identify Sources of Income

If you have multiple sources of income, you may need to combine these to figure out your income for child support purposes. 

All income you actually receive counts toward this calculation, including:

  •  All salary and wage income, tips, overtime, bonuses, and commissions;
  • Self-employment and business income;
  • Royalty income, interest, and dividends;
  •  Retirement benefits, social security, and pensions;
  • Disability, unemployment, and workers compensation benefits;
  • Annuities, trust income, and capital gains;
  • Gifts and prizes;
  • Net rental income;
  • Alimony; and
  • Child support paid for children from another marriage.

However, you don’t count the following items as income for child support purposes:

  •  Any income or resources of a new spouse;
  •  Accounts receivable;
  • Return of capital or principal;
  • Benefits paid from federal assistance programs; and
  • Foster care payments.

If the court decides that you are intentionally unemployed or underemployed, the court can impute a higher income to you for child support purposes. This means that the court will calculate your income based on your earning potential rather than your actual earnings.

Calculate Income

Once the court adds all sources of income together, it will subtract the following items to calculate your net income:

  • Federal and state income taxes;
  • Social security taxes or non-discretionary retirement plan contributions;
  • Union dues; and
  • The amount you spend on health and dental insurance and uninsured medical expenses for the children.

Once it calculates your yearly net income, the court divides that number by 12 to get your monthly net income.

To illustrate, let’s say you earn $50,000 per year, pay 20% of that amount in taxes, and spend $3,000 per year on your children’s medical and dental insurance and expenses. Your net income for child support purposes will be $37,000 per year or $3,083 per month. 

Calculate Your Support Obligation

There are two ways the court may calculate child support under the guidelines, depending on whether your net income is above a certain amount. This amount changes every six years based on inflation, but it is currently $9,200 per month.

If your income is $9,200 or less, the guidelines require you to pay a percentage of your total net income based on the number of children you have:

  • 1 child = 20% of net resources
  • 2 children = 25% of net resources
  • 3 children = 30% of net resources
  • 4 children = 35% of net resources
  • 5 children = 40% of net resources
  • 6+ children = at least 40% of net resources

So in our example above, someone with $3,083 per month in net income who has two children will pay $771 per month in child support.

If your income is more than $9,200, then your child support will be the greater of:

  • The same percentage you would pay above, but applied to only your first $9,200 of net income or
  • Up to 100% of your children’s actual needs.

For example, if you have two children and you earn $20,000 per month, you would pay at least $2,300 per month (20% of $9,200). However, if your children’s actual monthly needs are $5,000 per month, the court may instead require you to pay up to $5,000 per month.

Other Ways to Calculate Support

The guidelines are presumed to calculate a child support amount that is in the children’s best interests. However, it is possible for a court to order more or less support than provided in the guidelines.

This happens only if the court finds that the amount prescribed by the guidelines is “unjust or inappropriate under the circumstances.”

To deviate from the guidelines, the court must consider a long list of factors listed in the Texas Family Code. These factors consider whether there are unusual circumstances relating to a parent’s earning capacity, a parent’s monthly expenses, or a child’s needs.

Talk to a Divorce Attorney About Child Support in Texas

Child support is just one of the many issues you will need to resolve when you get a divorce. The knowledgeable and compassionate Waco, TX divorce attorneys at Simer & Tetens can help.

We will negotiate and advocate on your behalf to help you get the outcome you want. Call us at (254) 412-2300 or message us online to schedule a free consultation.

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