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How Is Child Support Determined in Texas?

There are many reasons that child support may be ordered. One of the more common reasons is when child support is ordered during a divorce proceeding. It also may be ordered when the child’s parents are separated or unmarried, too. The courts in Texas use a formula to decide how much child support will be ordered. Here are the steps used to calculate child support payments in Texas.

Step 1: Determine Your Income

Not all income sources are considered by the court when ordering child support, so it’s important to know which sources are counted and which are not. Your annual gross income is calculated using:

  • Your entire wage or salary income, including tips, commissions, bonuses, overtime pay, and other compensation
  • Interest, investment dividends, and royalties
  • Self-employment income
  • Net rental income, after deducting cash expenses such as mortgage and operating expenses
  • Severance pay
  • Retirement pay and pensions
  • Trust income
  • Annuities and capital gains
  • Social security benefits, disability or workers’ compensation benefits, and unemployment benefits
  • Interest income
  • Gifts and prizes
  • Spousal maintenance, and child support

What income sources that are not counted towards your total income include:

  • Return of principal or capital on any investments not included in net resources
  • Accounts receivable
  • Benefits paid through temporary assistance
  • Foster care payments
  • Net resources of a new spouse

Step 2: Find Your Monthly Average

Now that you have your total annual gross income, you’ll need to determine your annual monthly gross income. You can do this by dividing your annual total by 12.

Step 3: Find Your Average Monthly Net Resources

You’ll need to determine your monthly net resources, or what is left over each month after you have paid your taxes. Subtract the monthly totals for each of the following from your gross monthly average:

  • Federal income taxes paid after claiming one personal deduction from the standard deduction
  • State income taxes
  • Social security taxes
  • Union dues
  • Your child’s health insurance costs or cash medical support

Now that those have been subtracted, you should be left with your net monthly total. In Texas, the court will order you to pay a percentage of this amount to support your child or children. The percentage increases with every additional child supported. These percentages are:

  • 1 child: 20% of net resources
  • 2 children: 25% of net resources
  • 3 children: 30% of net resources
  • 4 children: 35% of net resources
  • 5 children: 40% of net resources
  • 6 or more children: Not less than 40% of net resources

This percentage does have a cap, however. These percentages apply for monthly incomes up to $7,500. For an income above that amount, the court may be increased at the court’s discretion, based on the needs of both parents and the child. There is no minimum amount of child support that can be ordered.

Challenging Child Support Orders

Generally, the course presumes that the guidelines will provide an appropriate amount of child support, but there may be situations in which it is not a fair amount. If you would like to increase or decrease your support amount, you will need to petition the court to make adjustments. The court will make the necessary adjustments, after reviewing a number of factors. These factors include:

  • The age and needs of the child
  • Whether the paying parent is able to pay the support amount
  • The financial resources and debts of the parents
  • The amount of time the child spends with each parent
  • The net resources of the receiving parent
  • Child care expenses
  • Custody arrangements
  • Alimony payments
  • Post-secondary education expenses for the child
  • Additional employment benefits of either parent, such as housing or a vehicle
  • Wage deductions of either parent
  • Provision of health insurance for the child
  • Education or healthcare expenses for the child, beyond what is expected
  • The costs of the child’s travel between parents
  • Cash flow from real estate or other assets

The judge will need to carefully evaluate and calculate an amount that is in the best interests of the child and their parents. This is especially important when the child has healthcare expenses or other extraordinary needs.

The amount of child support paid may also be changed if there is a sudden material and substantial change of circumstances for either parent. This can include a shift in custody, a loss of a job, a health event, or relocation. Your family law attorney will be able to help you file a modification petition, should you require a change in your child support amount.

Are you facing child support proceedings? Our team at Adams Law Firm is here to help. You can count on our experienced Katy family law attorneys to advocate for your best interests and ensure your needs are understood. Schedule a consultation today to begin your case with the aid of our team.

Contact our offices by calling (281) 764-6087.