February 17, 2022
Any parent or guardian who receives or pays child support in Texas can benefit from understanding how child support in Texas is calculated. Like all states, Texas has a formula in place. Texas child support guidelines are designed to be straightforward, but there is flexibility. You can benefit tremendously from having experienced family law attorneys advocating for the best interests of you and your child.
If you are wondering how much child support you will get in Texas, this guide will explain the process of calculating it.
Child support is the continued payment of money, from one parent to another, for the benefit of a child or children following a divorce or separation, or for the purpose of co-parenting. Specific amounts are based on child support laws in Texas. Support is meant to cover the basic needs of:
Children benefit from the presence of their parents - and their financial support. If the child lives with one parent (the custodial parent), the non-custodial parent will pay support. In cases where the guardian of a child is a grandparent or other relative, both parents could be ordered to pay child support.
The financial support of a child is meant to be shared by both parents. One parent paying child support does not exempt the other parent from providing for the basic needs of the child.
Parents new to child support calculations often ask “How is child support determined?”. Unlike other parts of the divorce that are subject to negotiation, calculating child support should not be complicated. Texas child support payment laws use the income of the non-custodial parent (the parent who does not have primary custody).
Even parents who are not working a full-time job may have income that counts. The court will look at:
A judge may attribute income to you on paper if you make attempts to avoid child support, such as structuring of business to appear to make a very low salary or no salary but receiving money through a business.
Net income is income after deductions are taken out. The court will subtract the following from the total gross income:
If you pay child support to another parent for a child from a different relationship, those payments may be credited in calculating net income. For example, If you pay $600 a month in child support to another mother, your annual net income may be reduced by $7,200 ($600 x 12 months).
In Texas, child support is based on a percentage of net income. The amount of the child support percentage in Texas is based on the number of children being supported. Any Texas child support calculator will use a standard formula which determines amounts based on:
Along with current monthly child support obligations, an obligor parent’s paycheck may have some funds withheld relating to child support:
The court will consider relevant background circumstances and has the discretion to look at the big picture. Background opportunities to consider regarding the obligor parent include their:
Once child support orders are in place (based on the noncustodial parent’s income), they must pay that amount each month. They may voluntarily pay more than the suggested amount (such as to cover sports, summer camps, tutoring, etc.), but not less.
If the parent intentionally tries to avoid paying child support (intentional unemployment), the court may order a higher monthly amount based on the parents’ abilities.
“Old school” custody arrangements of children living with their mother and seeing their father on weekends are often not in the best interests of the child. Equal shared co-parenting - called 50/50 custody - allows two parents to have equal time with their child. However, child support can be somewhat complex in a conflict-free 50/50 custody situation. A number of outcomes may be established:
In these modern times where people divorce with dignity and “consciously uncouple”, many fathers and mothers want to share parenting time. This arrangement also allows both parents to work, allowing each to financially contribute to the needs of the child.
Parents can work out their child support arrangement, sometimes through mediation. Judges are obligated to look out for the best interests of the child and must consider this when approving any petitioned amount.
When discussing child support with obligors, we are often asked “how long do I have to pay child support?”. Child support typically continues until the child is 18 and graduated from high school, or unless the child marries, is legally emancipated, or passes away.
In rare cases, child support can end early. This could occur if the parents reconcile and remarry to each other. If the custodial parent receives a large inheritance for the care of the child, they may wish to relieve the non-custodial parent of the financial responsibility of monthly child support and can petition to modify or terminate child support.
Informal agreements made between co-parents do not change the court-ordered amount. The amount of standard child support in Texas can only be changed with a court order.
Two scenarios exist where you could go to jail for failing to pay child support:
If you are looking for a fair result in a child support matter, you need a skilled and knowledgeable attorney. If you hire our attorneys, we will defend and advocate for your rights, keeping your goals in mind throughout the process. Contact our family law firm to schedule a free case evaluation. We will answer your questions related to how child support works in Texas and help you determine how much is child support in Texas based on your unique situation.
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Brooks, LLC, and its attorneys, are only performed in compliance with all applicable laws and the Texas Rules of Professional Conduct.