Understanding Child Support in Texas
At Hill and Hill Attorneys, we have spent many years helping our clients understand and navigate complicated family law issues. In our experience, no topic causes more confusion and angst quite like child support. No matter what kind of financial situation you or your spouses are in, it happens without exception that nobody is satisfied with how child support is calculated and awarded in a divorce or child custody case.
The laws regarding child support are actually fairly straightforward but you should still seek the advice of an expert. Child support in Texas is a calculation of the net income of the payor parent multiplied by a percentage that is based on the number of children involved in your case. This blog will help you understand this calculation and other influencing factors so that you can better understand them as you continue in your family law case journey.
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Texas, when compared to many other states, has a fairly straightforward formula for calculating child support. As mentioned above, the formula begins with the number of children who are born of your relationship with the other parent. You then determine what percentage of net monthly income is applicable based on Texas law. One child is 20% of net monthly income, two children are 25% of net monthly income and so on up to, at most, 40% of a person’s net monthly income being allocated for child support.
For example, a payor parent who earns $8,550 per month on a net monthly basis and has two children will multiply $8,550 by 25%, which results in a child support payment of $2,137.50. Most households in Texas have net incomes that total roughly $60,000 so most payor parents will not pay this much in child support. (These are examples and you should understand every situation is unique)
As you can see, Texas courts, in part, base child support off of net resources and the number of children involved in the family law case. There is, however, another important factor courts sometimes consider, which is how many children the payor parent is responsible for who are not involved in the current case. As in- if payor parent has other children to whom he or she cares for or pays child support towards, the court will consider this in determining how much child support is owed.
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Net resources are basically take-home pay after taxes and other withholdings. A court can file an order on the receiving parent’s behalf that will require the employer of the payor parent to withhold their wages. This is to ensure that the child support is paid each month, is received in full, and paid on time. If child support is not paid, an accurate record is maintained so that an enforcement case may be filed to bring these violations to the court’s attention.
The parent who typically dislikes the wage withholding order is typically the parent who is paying child support. Many parents feel that they are responsible enough to take care of their own children without involvement from a court. While this viewpoint is understandable, the payor parent should consider that by paying under a wage withholding order, your payments go through the Texas Office of the Attorney General. Thus, the payor parent has an accurate record of having paid to fall back on should an enforcement case ever be filed.
Overall, child support in Texas is based on the guidelines set forth in Texas Family Code and the ordered support is presumed to be in the best interest of the child or children at issue. That is why the vast majority of Texas divorce and child custody cases tend to have child support orders that match the Texas Family Code verbatim. A court can, however, move away from guideline child support, but the rationale for doing so must be stated in the final order for the case.