cropped logo2

Child Support in Texas


Child support in the state of Texas is a crucial component of family law that aims to ensure that both parents contribute financially to the upbringing of their children, even after a divorce or separation. Understanding the intricacies of child support, including how it is calculated, enforced, and modified, is essential for parents navigating the legal system. In this comprehensive overview, we’ll delve into various aspects of child support in Texas, providing a detailed understanding of the relevant laws, guidelines, and procedures.

1. Child Support Guidelines in Texas:

Texas utilizes an Income Shares model for calculating child support, which considers the income of both parents to determine the financial responsibility for supporting the child. The primary goal of these guidelines is to estimate the amount of money that would have been available for the child’s care if the parents had remained together.

The Texas Family Code establishes specific percentages of the noncustodial parent’s income to be allocated for child support. As of my last knowledge update in January 2022, these percentages are as follows:

  • 20% of the noncustodial parent’s net resources for one child.
  • 25% for two children.
  • 30% for three children.
  • 35% for four children.
  • 40% for five children.
  • Not less than 40% for six or more children.

It is crucial to note that these percentages are applied to the noncustodial parent’s net resources, which are determined by subtracting certain allowable deductions from their gross income.

2. Determining Net Resources:

Calculating child support starts with determining the noncustodial parent’s net resources. This involves a two-step process:

a. Gross Income: The starting point is the gross income of the noncustodial parent. Gross income includes wages, salary, tips, bonuses, commissions, and other forms of income. It is a comprehensive assessment that aims to capture the parent’s financial capacity to contribute to the child’s support.

b. Deductions: Certain allowable deductions are subtracted from the gross income to arrive at the net resources. These deductions may include federal income tax, state income tax, Social Security tax, union dues, and health insurance premiums for the child. Deductions are designed to reflect the actual income available for child support after accounting for necessary expenses.

3. Additional Expenses Considered:

Child support in Texas is not solely based on the percentage of the noncustodial parent’s income. The court may also consider additional expenses related to the child, including:

a. Health Insurance: The court may order the noncustodial parent to provide health insurance for the child if it is available at a reasonable cost through their employer or other means. The cost of health insurance is factored into the child support calculation.

b. Child Care Costs: Reasonable and necessary child care expenses incurred by either parent due to employment or education may be considered. These costs are added to the child support obligation.

c. Extraordinary Expenses: The court has the discretion to order additional support for extraordinary expenses that exceed the basic child support obligation. These may include medical expenses not covered by insurance, educational expenses, or other costs related to the child’s specific needs.

4. Deviation from Guidelines:

While the Texas Child Support Guidelines provide a standard calculation, the court has the authority to deviate from these guidelines if it determines that the standard calculation would be unjust or inappropriate. Deviations can be based on various factors, and the court may consider the needs of the child, the ability of the parents to contribute to the support, and any extraordinary medical or educational expenses.

5. Enforcement of Child Support Orders:

Once child support orders are established, they are legally binding, and failure to comply with these orders can lead to enforcement actions. The Texas Child Support Division, under the Office of the Attorney General, plays a crucial role in enforcing child support orders. Enforcement mechanisms may include:

a. Wage Garnishment: The court may order the noncustodial parent’s employer to deduct child support payments directly from the parent’s wages. This ensures consistent and timely payments.

b. Driver’s License Suspension: Failure to pay child support may result in the suspension of the noncustodial parent’s driver’s license. This measure encourages compliance with child support orders.

c. Liens and Seizures: The court may place liens on the noncustodial parent’s property or seize assets to satisfy outstanding child support obligations.

d. Contempt of Court: A parent who willfully fails to comply with child support orders may be held in contempt of court, which can result in fines or imprisonment.

6. Modification of Child Support Orders:

Child support orders are not static and can be modified under certain circumstances. Either parent can seek a modification if there is a substantial change in circumstances that justifies a modification. Common reasons for modification include:

a. Change in Income: If there is a significant change in either parent’s income, such as job loss, job change, or a substantial increase in income, the court may consider modifying child support.

b. Change in Custody Arrangements: A change in the custody arrangements, such as the child spending more time with the noncustodial parent, may warrant a modification of child support.

c. Changes in the Child’s Needs: If there are substantial changes in the child’s needs, such as medical expenses or educational costs, the court may consider modifying child support to accommodate these changes.

d. Automatic Review: In Texas, child support orders are subject to automatic review by the Attorney General’s office every three years. This review assesses whether the child support order needs adjustment based on changes in circumstances.

7. Online Child Support Calculator:

The Texas Attorney General’s office provides an online Child Support Calculator on its website. This calculator allows parents to input relevant information, such as income, deductions, and additional expenses, to estimate the child support obligation. While this tool can provide a preliminary estimate, it’s essential to note that the court makes the final determination, and the online calculator is for informational purposes only.

8. Paternity Establishment:

Before child support orders can be established, paternity must be legally established if the parents were not married at the time of the child’s birth. This can be done voluntarily through an Acknowledgment of Paternity, signed by both parents, or through legal proceedings if there is a dispute over paternity.

Establishing paternity is a fundamental step in ensuring that both parents are recognized legally, and it forms the basis for child support obligations.

Conclusion:

Child support in Texas is a comprehensive system designed to prioritize the well-being of children by ensuring that both parents contribute financially to their upbringing. The state’s guidelines provide a structured approach to calculating child support, taking into account the income of both parents and additional expenses related to the child.

Understanding the factors involved in child support calculations, enforcement mechanisms, and modification procedures is crucial for parents navigating the legal aspects of child support. Consulting with a family law attorney can provide personalized guidance based on the specific circumstances of each case and ensure that the child’s best interests are prioritized.

It’s important to note that laws and guidelines may be subject to change, and individuals seeking information on child support should consult the most recent legal resources or seek advice from legal professionals.

The following two tabs change content below.
Mr. Hutton is a Divorce and Custody Lawyer based out of Round Rock, TX. His background is with child psychology at Arizona State University where he received a B.S. in 2006, and he continued this by working with the Children’s Right’s Clinic at the University of Texas School of Law where he received his J.D. in 2009. Throughout his practice, he has been a strong proponent of utilizing modern technology to improve his practice and the representation of his clients. He currently is the technology chair of CAFA of Travis County and is committed to improving and modernizing the practice of law in Texas. If you have any questions you can contact him at attorney@okohlaw.us

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *