Child support can be a touchy subject for parents going through a divorce. Discussions about child support obligations can quickly turn an amicable divorce into a contentious event.
Whether you are expecting to receive child support or pay child support following a divorce, the uncertainty can weigh on your mind as you contemplate your financial future. On top of everything else that goes along with a divorce, this can be a stressful period of time.
I’ll help clear up some questions that you may have about whether child support is required by law in Texas and what you can expect to receive or pay once the divorce is completed.
What Does Texas Law Say About Child Support?
The state of Texas has a set of specific child support guidelines that are set by the Texas Family Code. These guidelines help the court system calculate how much child support one or both parents owe. The parents can agree to pay more than what the court suggests but can’t agree to pay less. And, if the parents agree on an amount, the court has to approve it.
Generally, the non-custodial parent – or parent who is expected to spend the least amount of time with the child or children – will be considered the obligor. The obligor is the parent that pays child support to the obligee, who is usually the custodial parent.
Based on this arrangement, the Texas court system ultimately determines how child support is paid, but divorcing parents must both share in supporting their child or children.
How is Child Support Calculated in Texas?
The Texas child support guidelines dictate that the child support payment amount is calculated as a percentage of the obligor’s net monthly income. Because of this method of calculation, you can estimate the amount of child support you might owe or receive based on the guidelines’ fee schedule.
To calculate net income, the court first takes into consideration all available monthly income, which is known as the gross income. Gross income can include:
- Wages from work
- Tips or bonuses
- Overtime pay
- Self-employment income
- Military income
- Rental income
- Alimony (or spousal support)
Gross income can also include retirement pay, severance, unemployment, Social Security, and worker’s compensation benefits or awards. In some cases, the court will also include the market value of certain assets, such as homes, cars, boats, or assets received by inheritance.
The court then subtracts taxes, mandatory retirement contributions, union dues, child support paid for other children, and medical expenses for the child or children, including health insurance premiums if the obligor has been ordered to pay these as well. This provides the court with a net income determination. Net income is calculated annually, so the resulting figure should be divided by 12 to arrive at the obligor’s monthly net income.
The net income for the obligor is then multiplied by a set percentage outlined in the guidelines. This percentage is based on the number of children the obligor will be supporting. The resulting figure is the amount of child support owed based on the Texas child support guidelines.
Can the Amount of Child Support Change?
There are two primary sets of circumstances where the amount of support can be altered by the courts.
– The first situation is when one or both parents challenge the amount of support assigned by the court. If the amount of support granted is believed to be unfair or not in the child’s best interests, the court will review the calculation and may adjust it based on the availability of compelling evidence.
This situation is a prime example of why you need an experienced family attorney by your side. When you work with me, I will review every detail of your situation and help you present the best possible case to receive or pay a fair amount of child support. Because there are a significant number of relevant factors to consider, it’s in your best interest to have an attorney compile and prepare the necessary information to support your case.
– The second situation is in the event that either parent experiences a change in circumstances that is both substantial and material. For example, if one parent loses his or her job and is unable to provide adequate support for the child, the amount of child support may be reviewed and adjusted. This is also a situation where having a capable attorney is also important to help you state your case for a more fair child support determination.
How are Child Support Orders Enforced?
The obligor must pay the stated amount of child support every month, which the obligee can collect through a mailed check, bank transfer, in-person check, or garnished wages. In the event that the obligor fails to pay their portion of child support either in full or at all, then the court may need to enforce the child support order.
Enforcement of an order is a serious legal matter. Parties that fail to comply with a court order may be held in contempt and face legal consequences.
Find Expert Support For Your Child Support Legal Matter
If you are going through a divorce and are worried about child support, then you need to work with an expert in Texas family law. I can help you on both sides of the equation — either receiving your fair share of child support payments as the obligee or only paying the minimum amount as the obligor.
Alternatively, if you need child support modified or if you are dealing with non-compliance from the other party, I can help you with a modification or enforcement of the court order, respectively.
With a decade of experience in Texas family law, I am uniquely suited to help you. I currently help parents in Fort Bend County, Brazoria County, and Harris County navigate child support legal requirements.
Call my offices at 281-944-5485 or 979-267-7660 right away to find support with your child support matter. I’m here to help with your case!