Child support in Texas is the money a parent pays to help with the cost of raising a child, including but not limited to food, housing, clothing, daycare, school supplies and extracurricular activities. Both parents are expected to financially support their children, and the 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 “noncustodial parent”) to the parent with whom the child lives the majority of the time (the “custodial parent”).
The amount of child support can be calculated and ordered by the court or agreed upon by the parents and approved by the court. Medical and dental support may be ordered in addition to regular child support, and the court can order these child support obligations upon one or both parents. If the parents are sharing time with the children equally, such as alternating weeks, the court will take into consideration the income of each parent in determining if there is a need for child support.
Texas law sets general guidelines for calculating child support, called “guideline child support.” This calculation is different if the noncustodial parent has other children. If these guidelines are found to be unfair towards the parent(s) or child, the court can adjust the amounts to ensure there isn’t undue hardship. As well, the parents can come to an agreement with respect to child support obligations that is different than guideline child support, but the court has the final say and can choose to adjust the amount in the Final Decree.
When determining if the guideline or agreed amounts are appropriate, the court will consider factors including, but not limited to, the following:
- The age and needs of the child
- How much time the child spends with each of the parents
- The ability of the parents to support the child
- The net resources of the parent receiving the child support payments
- Alimony payments
- Extra expenses involved in education and/or healthcare
Guidelines and calculations
The Texas child support guidelines are based on how many children of the marriage there are, and are determined by a certain percentage of the noncustodial parent’s average monthly net resources. The custodial parent’s resources may also be reviewed if parenting time is shared equally.
- Monthly net resources refers to all of the income and assets you have (gross income), minus items like social security taxes, federal income taxes, union dues, and health insurance premiums/medical expenses for the children (if ordered to be paid by the court).
- Gross income includes the income earned on a monthly basis, as well as any assets producing income, or potentially assets that could be sold (such as property received in inheritance, etc.).
- Once you calculate the gross income, subtract the deductions, and divide the number by 12 to see the average monthly net resources amount. A Judge cannot include the income of the noncustodial parent’s spouse when calculating child support.
Child support obligations are based on a percentage of the average monthly net resources amount of the noncustodial parent, and depends on the number of children requiring support as follows:
- 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 is deciding on how much child support the noncustodial parent needs to pay, the judge will also take into consideration if the non-custodial parent has other children. As such, amounts can vary.