What does the court look at when calculating child support in Texas?
How is Child Support Calculated in Texas?
Our job as family law attorneys here at the Nickols & White, PLLC, is to make sure that our clients know what to expect in a child custody case. Although not lost, the “traditional” family structure of one mom and one dad raising their children in the same house is not necessarily the norm anymore. Blended families have increasingly become more common as generations pass. Although parents are no longer expected to stay married, or get married, the expectation to support their children remains firmly intact. This concept is familiarly known as child support. You likely already know that child support is ordered by a judge when parents of a child or children are not together, but a common question for many is how this number is calculated for each family. The answer to this question depends greatly on the net resources of the obligor (the parent responsible for paying child support).
What are net resources?
Net resources include the obligor’s net monthly income as well as any other sources of income, such as royalties, profits from rental properties, and bonuses. Net monthly income is calculated by taking the obligor’s gross yearly income, including all net resources, and dividing it by twelve to get a gross monthly income. Social security, federal income taxes, and health insurance costs for the supported child are then subtracted from the gross monthly income to come up with the net monthly income. The amount to be paid in child support monthly comes from a percentage of the obligor’s net monthly income.
Will a spouse’s net resources be included?
Any resources of a spouse not the parent of the supported child will not be included in calculating the obligor’s net monthly income. Likewise, the spouse and his or her dependents’ financial needs will not be considered in the calculation.
What percentage of monthly income goes to child support?
The percentage of the monthly net income that will be ordered as child support is determined by the Texas Child Support Guidelines. The Texas Child Support Guidelines are guidelines developed by the Texas Legislature that act as exactly that – a guide for the courts to calculate child support. The Child Support Guidelines are based on the monthly net resources of the obligor and the number of children being supported. The guidelines start at 20% of net monthly income for one child and increase by 5% for each child up to 5 total children. If there 6 or more children being supported, the court will establish a percentage not less than the 40% required for 5 children.
The most important thing to know about the guidelines is that they are presumed to be in the best interest of the child. This means that the court will not often deviate from the guidelines. In order to get a lower child support order, the obligor must prove that, among other things, he or she is unable to pay the percentage required by the guidelines. Likewise, a parent looking to have a child support order higher than guideline support, he or she must show that the child requires more support.
Are there any other factors considered in determining child support?
The court may look at several other factors if applicable. Of course if the parents have come to an agreement on the support to be paid, the court will order such support as long as it is in the best interest of the children. The court also has a separate calculation for obligors who have children in multiple households, which takes into consideration the parent’s obligation to support the children that are not before the court. The court also has the power to order retroactive child support for a time period where there was not a child support order for the amount that would have been due had there been an order.
Finally, and ultimately, the court will take into consideration any factor that pertains to the best interest of the children and their needs.
What should I do if I believe I should be receiving more or paying less in child support?
Call our experienced family law attorneys at (817) 617-7500. Our attorneys are knowledgeable in the areas of family law, including child support. We will advise you on whether your current child support order is appropriate, and if not, we will work to help you attain a fair support order.