Going through a divorce is a distressing situation packed with heavy emotions, financial concerns, and familial turmoil, especially when children are involved. That’s why it’s important to understand your rights regarding child support in Texas.
If you are the custodial parent, the law is relatively straightforward in Texas in that custodial parents typically receive child support from non-custodial parents in amounts based on the non-custodial parent’s income. First, let’s walk through how child support is determined in the state of Texas.
How is Child Support Determined?
In Texas, child support payments are ordered to be paid by any non-custodial parent, regardless of age or income. At the judge’s discretion, variable child support amounts can be levied for minors, students, and the unemployed.
The amount that the non-custodial parent pays is calculated partly by the number of children being made subject of the suit. The Texas legislature created the child support laws as an estimation of the costs incurred from raising a child that each parent would normally contribute to allow for a certain standard of living.
Under normal circumstances, a non-custodial parent can expect to pay the following percentages for each child:
- One child: 20 percent of monthly net resources
- Two children: 25 percent of monthly net resources
- Three children: 30 percent of monthly net resources
- Four children: 35 percent of monthly net resources
- Five or more children: At least 40 percent of monthly net resources
With certain circumstances, as in the case of a child with disabilities, the cost of child-rearing may be factored differently and payments may increase or go beyond the child reaching the age of 18 or graduating from high school. If the non-custodial parent has children from another relationship, this may cause payments to go down.
Special Situation: When the Parents Share Equal Time with the Child
The state of Texas encourages relationships between children and both parents when they are deemed competent to care for the child. During the divorce proceedings, the custodial and non-custodial parents are established, and the Standard Possession Order entails a minimum amount of time with each parent. Under these orders, standard child support payment calculations are commonly used to assign child support obligations.
Understandably, a primary goal of parents during a divorce is maximizing allotted time with their children. They want to be an active part of their lives to provide advice and direction, share in their successes, and help them as they grow. For this reason, equal possession time is often pursued.
When the parents agree to equal possession time with their child(ren), both parents are presumed to be contributing their fair share during the child’s time with them individually. Thus, the child support payment may be calculated according to what each individual parent would pay, with the difference going to the lower-paying parent.
For example, if one parent, under normal circumstances, would be determined to pay $800 per month and another would pay $500 per month, the lower-paying parent would receive $300 per month.
In most circumstances, being named joint managing conservators does not guarantee that the child support payment will differ from the normally calculated amount. There is no official statute for special circumstances, so the amount will only change if the judge orders it at their discretion or if the parents make an agreement to something outside of what the statutes allow.
Special Situation: Best Interests of the Child
Texas courts use the best interests of the child to drive their decisions around child support, custody, and visitation. In rare circumstances, judges may weigh the unique determining factors and adjust child support if it holds the most benefit to the child’s well-being and upbringing.
For example, there could be a significant disparity between the income of a custodial parent and non-custodial parent. The court may weigh whether it is in the best interest of the child for the non-custodial parent to receive a measure of child support from the custodial parent in order to provide an adequate home environment for the child during visitation.
Contact Blair Parker with Concerns About Child Support
Divorces are challenging. Matters surrounding custodial affairs and child welfare only exacerbate an already confusing and frustrating time in your life. I am here to protect your legal rights as you navigate these unfamiliar circumstances and the difficult days ahead.
I have helped parents in Fort Bend County, Brazoria County, and Harris County find a resolution to help ease the pain associated with a divorce and child custody issues. I will work diligently to review the court order and seek to modify court orders to ensure fairness on your behalf.
Call my offices at 281-944-5485 or 979-267-7660 to discuss the specific details of your case. I look forward to supporting you and your family during this time.