Divorce creates a lot of pressure on the couple and others around them – including children. As you go further into the divorce process, you will encounter the challenge of determining financial support for your child(ren).
As a parent, you may want to know more about the amount you can expect to receive or pay in child support once the divorce is finalized. Specifically, you may want to know how much is child support? I’ll help you better understand how child support is calculated in Texas. This way, you can better prepare for the future by understanding your expected obligation or the amount to be received – depending on which side of the equation you find yourself on.
How Child Support Is Determined in Texas
Section 154 of the Texas Family Code states that the amount of child support paid is based on the percentage of monthly net resources and the number of children who require support.
The court will look at each parent’s gross income and any other income they obtain to determine their monthly net resources. Added income may include severance pay, social security, pension, retirement payments, unemployment, and any earnings that come from investments.
The court will then eliminate the costs of the child’s health insurance as well as federal and state income taxes. The court could continue with a non-standard child support amount, but they would need several factors to support deviation. These factors include pre-existing ailments or disabilities the child might have that require further beneficial support for the child.
Keep in mind that monthly payments of child support will change as the child graduates high school or turns 18, therefore, becoming ineligible. When this happens, the parent who is determined to owe child support (obligor) can update their owed amount based on the remaining number of eligible children.
Net Monthly Income for Determining the Calculation
The guidelines for determining child support are based on the obligor’s net monthly income (NMI). The key figure is $7,500.
- If the NMI of the obligor is lower than $7,500, the court will follow a set schedule based on the number of children to support (outlined below).
- If the NMI of the obligor is greater than $7,500, then the child support calculation will only apply to the first $7,500 of monthly income.
This can present several issues, as some parents may try to hide or minimize income/assets that factor into the calculation to lower the amount they owe in child support. That’s why the court will require the obligor to furnish information that accurately captures their net resources. Texas law recommends that an obligor provide copies of income tax returns covering the previous two years, plus a financial statement and pay stubs.
The Child Support Schedule Per Child
If the obligator’s monthly net resources are less than $7,500, the court will apply the following child support schedule:
- 1 child: 20% of Obligor’s Net Resources
- 2 children: 25% of Obligor’s Net Resources
- 3 children: 30% of Obligor’s Net Resources
- 4 children: 35% of Obligor’s Net Resources
- 5 children: 40% of Obligor’s Net Resources
- 6+ children: Not less than the amount for 5 children
As mentioned above, as each child “phases out” of child support once they turn 18 or graduate from high school, the obligor can request that their obligation is adjusted to reflect the lower level in the schedule.
Circumstances a Court Will Factor Into The Final Determination
The court is able to increase or decrease the child support amount if a different amount is in the child’s best interests. Texas courts may consider the following factors when determining the final child support amount:
- The needs and age(s) of the child or children
- Whether or not the parents can provide to the child or children’s financial support
- Any kind of additional financial resources available to the child or children
- The time each parent has custody of the child
- Any work-related childcare expenses
- Alimony support paid for any other children
- Custody of other children
If the obligee – or recipient of child support – is able to show that the child has unique “needs” that warrant more child support to cover the financial burden, then the court may demand the obligor to pay more child support. Certain “needs” may include:
- Extra medical costs
- Extra-curricular activities
The court can even mandate a parent to pay “retroactive” child support, also known as arrears. This is a unique situation where the obligor failed to support the child as required previously. But, this could affect the final amount determined by the court.
Find Legal Support With Child Support Payments
Divorce is difficult on its own. When you arrive at the point of hashing out the legal details of child support, this can become incredibly stressful, especially as you consider your financial future. That’s why you need to work with a family law attorney to help you arrive at the best possible outcome.
Whether you are trying to minimize the child support amount owed (as the obligor), or if you want to receive as much child support as possible (as the obligee), I can help you out. I currently provide expert legal support to parents in Fort Bend County, Brazoria County, and Harris County with child support matters.
Contact me today at 281-944-5485 or 979-267-7660 to further discuss how child support is calculated in Texas and how this affects your specific situation. I’m here to help you during this difficult time for you and your family.