Are you currently receiving income from a personal injury lawsuit or another type of legal settlement? If you are subject to child support payments, then you may have questions about how much money could be garnished from your settlement to cover the payments.
Certainly, you want what’s best for your children, but you also want what’s fair for you as you try to put the pieces back together after going through personal hardship.
So, how much can child support take from a settlement in Texas? Unfortunately, the answer isn’t always simple. The court will consider many factors when making a child support determination, which means a parent’s child support obligations vary greatly from case to case. However, these factors are fairly predictable, so you can get a good idea of what to expect. Let’s examine.
Is a Personal Injury Settlement Considered Income?
The primary issue I want to cover is whether a personal injury settlement is considered income that will be factored into your child support obligations. The answer is, typically, yes.
Texas courts generally consider any type of income that the non-custodial parent receives from a regular job, a side gig, a settlement, or another source of monthly income as key factors in the child support calculation.
A court may consider certain exceptions, such as whether you are current on your child support payments and have a good history of making monthly payments. However, suppose you are behind on payments because you had to cover legal expenses during the personal injury lawsuit. In that case, the court will likely consider your settlement as a source of income to help make up for late payments.
Ultimately, the court will weigh factors that are relevant to your case to determine your monthly obligation.
The Texas Child Support Formula
In Texas, the amount of child support is typically based on a percentage of the non-custodial parent’s net income along with the number of children that they are responsible for supporting.
The Texas Family Code provides child support guidelines, which a court will use as part of how they determine your obligation. Here’s a general breakdown of the child support schedule:
- 1 child – 20% of monthly net income
- 2 children – 25% of monthly net income
- 3 children – 30% of monthly net income
- 4 children – 35% of monthly net income
- 5 or more children – 40% of monthly net income
If the non-custodial parent’s income is above $7,500 a month, the court has the discretion to set the child support amount higher than what is specified in the schedule. In doing so, the judge will evaluate both parents’ income, along with each child’s needs.
It’s important to note that this formula is just a guideline. The court has the final say in how much child support will be ordered, and your case will be evaluated individually based on the specific facts of your case.
Special Considerations for Child Support Obligations
The goal of child support payments is to ensure that a child has a standard of living comparable to what they would have if the parents were still together. Additionally, any child support decision the court makes must serve the child’s best interests. With that in mind, the court will consider special circumstances when determining child support.
– For example, if the custodial parent re-marries a high-earning spouse, the non-custodial parent’s child support payments may be lower than what is specified in the schedule. This is particularly likely if the non-custodial parent earns significantly less than the custodial parent’s new spouse.
Additionally, if the non-custodial parent has other children to support, the court may lower the child support payments to ensure that all children can be adequately cared for.
– Conversely, if the custodial parent is unmarried or earning a low income, the non-custodial parent’s child support payments may be higher than what is specified in the schedule. This is to make sure that the child’s needs are being met.
Similarly, suppose the child has special needs. In that case, the court may order the non-custodial parent to pay a higher child support amount to cover expenses such as medical bills, therapy, and special education.
The Child Support Collection Process in Texas
Once the court determines the child support obligation, you will need to make sure that the payments are made on time and in full. In Texas, child support can be paid in a few different ways.
1. A common method is for the non-custodial parent to make direct payments to the custodial parent. This arrangement works well if the parents are able to communicate and work together. However, if there is an ongoing conflict between the parents, this method is likely to lead to problems.
2. Another option is for the non-custodial parent to make child support payments through the Texas Attorney General’s Office. You can set up an online account with their office and make electronic payments from your bank account or set up an automatic bank draft schedule.
You can also pay by mail, cash, money order, or by using a designated payment kiosk. The Attorney General’s Office will then disburse the payments to the custodial parent.
3. A third common option is wage garnishment or wage withholding. In this case, the non-custodial parent’s employer will withhold a portion of each month’s wages and redirect the funds to the Attorney General’s Office.
Pertinent to your situation, if the court includes your legal settlement in their determination of child support obligations, then the court may order a certain amount to be garnished from your personal injury suit payout to be redirected to the custodial parent.
Find an Advocate for a Fair Child Support Arrangement
If you are concerned that you will owe more child support than you believe you should be ordered to pay following a personal injury settlement, then you need to work with a Texas family law attorney.
An experienced attorney such as myself can help you present a strong argument to the court defending your situation. I’ll help you argue for a fair amount of child support payments that will protect your financial interests.
I currently help parents in Fort Bend County, Brazoria County, and Harris County navigate child support legal situations. If you live in one of these counties, contact me today for legal support. When you turn to my law firm, I will work diligently to ensure that you reach a fair child support agreement that fits the unique needs of your situation.
If you are a non-custodial parent who is having trouble with child support, call my offices at 281-944-5485 or 979-267-7660 to request a consultation. Let’s talk more about how much child support can be taken from a settlement in Texas.