How is Child Support Calculated in Texas?

Child support in Texas is the money a parent pays to help with the cost of raising a child. Expenses include but are not limited to food, housing, clothing, daycare, school supplies, and extracurricular activities for the child.

Who is required to pay child support in Texas?

Both parents are expected to financially support their children in Texas and payment of child support is primarily determined based on physical custody. It is typically paid by the parent who does not have primary physical custody of the child (the "non-custodial parent") to the parent with whom the child lives the majority of the time (the "custodial parent").

How is the amount of child support determined?

The amount of child support may be calculated and ordered by a Texas court, or it may be agreed upon by the parents and approved by the court. Medical and dental support may be ordered in addition to regular child support.

The court can order these child support obligations upon one or both parents. If the parents share equal time with the children, such as alternating weeks, the court will take into consideration the income of each parent when determining the need for child support.

What is "Texas guideline child support"?

Texas law sets general guidelines for calculating child support, called "guideline child support." Bear in mind that this is a guideline and not an absolute rule. For example, the calculation would be different if the noncustodial parent had other children. If these guidelines are found to be unfair toward the parent(s) or child, the court can adjust the amounts to avoid creating undue hardship for either parent. 

Can Texas parents determine their own child support amount? To an extent, yes. Parents can come to an agreement on their own with respect to child support, and that amount may differ from guideline child support. However, to keep things fair, the Texas court still has the final say on the matter. They can choose to adjust the amount of child support to be paid in the final divorce decree

Factors considered by the Texas court

When determining whether the guideline or agreed-upon amount of child support is appropriate, the court considers factors including but not limited to the following:

  • The age and needs of the child
  • How much time the child spends with each parent
  • The ability of the parents to support the child
  • The net resources of the parent receiving child support payments
  • Alimony payments
  • Extra expenses involved in education or healthcare

How is child support calculated using the Texas guideline?

The calculation is based on how many children of the marriage there are as well as a percentage of the noncustodial parent's average monthly net resources. (See more on this below.)

If parenting time is shared equally, a custodial parent's resources may also be reviewed when determining how much child support should be paid.

What are monthly net resources?

This term refers to all income and assets you have (gross income) minus items like Social Security taxes, federal income taxes, union dues, health insurance premiums, and medical expenses for the children (if ordered to be paid by the court).

Gross income refers to the income earned on a monthly basis as well as any assets that produce income or assets that could be potentially sold (such as property received through inheritance).

The calculation

Once you calculate the gross income, subtract the deductions from that number. Then, divide that amount by 12 to see the average monthly net resources amount.

Note: A judge cannot include the income of the noncustodial parent's spouse when calculating child support.

Child support obligations are based on percentages

As mentioned, child support obligations are based on a percentage of the average monthly net resources of the noncustodial parent and depend on the number of children requiring support. See the following:

  • 1 child = 20% of the noncustodial parent's average monthly net resources
  • 2 children = 25% of the noncustodial parent's average monthly net resources
  • 3 children = 30% of the noncustodial parent's average monthly net resources
  • 4 children = 35% of the noncustodial parent's average monthly net resources
  • 5 children = 40% of the noncustodial parent's average monthly net resources
  • 6 or more children = not less than 40% of the noncustodial parent's average monthly net resources

When the court decides how much child support the noncustodial parent needs to pay, the judge will also take into consideration whether the noncustodial parent has other children. As such, amounts can vary.

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