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. 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 an amount determined?

The child support sum 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.

How to calculate child support in Texas as individuals

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.

During your divorce negotiation process, talk frankly with your partner about your income, expenses, and fees. Discuss how much you need every month to keep your children healthy and safe. Write the amount you’ve agreed to in your Final Decree of Divorce (Set B) form and your Income Withholding Order for Support form.

In your divorce hearing, the judge will review your documents for fairness. The judge can choose to adjust the amount of 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?

To determine your monthly net resources, you must gather information about your income and debts.

Monthly income includes the values of the following:

  • Wages, including self-employment funds
  • Overtime
  • Tips and bonuses
  • Dividends
  • Severance payments
  • Retirement and pension payments
  • Trust income
  • Annuities
  • Capital gains
  • Social Security benefits
  • Veterans disability benefits
  • Unemployment benefits
  • Disability and workers’ compensation payments
  • Interest
  • Gifts and prizes
  • Spousal support payments

Some things are not included, such as SSI, TANF, payments intended for the benefit of foster children,  return on capital, and accounts receivable.

Subtract the following monthly expenses from your income:

  • Social Security taxes
  • Income taxes for a single person
  • Health insurance or dental insurance premiums
  • Cash payment for a child’s medical support
  • Union dues
  • Retirement contributions if the noncustodial parent doesn’t pay Social Security taxes

The resulting figure is your noncustodial net resource, and it’s capped at $9,200 per month.

Consider this example: A parent makes $4,000 in wages and pays $800 per month in health and dental insurance premiums and $20 in union dues. This person’s monthly net resources are $3,180.

Note: The income of a noncustodial parent's spouse cannot be included in the child support calculation.

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.

At Hello Divorce, we offer a full line of divorce-related services. This includes affordable online divorce plans, mediation to help resolve disputes outside of court, and legal coaching when you need an extended period of question/answer time with an attorney.

Frequently asked questions

Can parents develop any child support arrangements they want?

No. Texas courts must approve any plans people make in divorce and ensure they’re fair and in line with state laws. You can’t make any arrangements you want.

What factors do courts use when calculating Texas child support?

The factors considered include how many children are in the marriage and the income of the noncustodial parent.

Do I have to pay more every month if we have a lot of children?

Yes. The percentages you’re required to pay per Texas law increase by the number of children you share.


Child Support and Lower Incomes. (October 2023).
Family Code, Title 5. Texas Statutes.
I Need a Divorce. We Have Children Under 18. (October 2023).

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