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The Basics of Child Support Calculation in Texas

Introduction: Basic Child Support Concepts

Child support is one of the issues in divorce which cannot be resolved privately among the divorcing parties. Most issues in divorce – spousal maintenance, property division – can be resolved between parties privately, although court approval is still necessary. Child support doesn’t work this way. When a parent is ordered to pay child support, the amount of the support is determined by a fixed formula. Courts in Texas refer to the child support “guidelines” to make the calculation, and then integrate this calculation into a final child support order. If amounts are consistent with the official Texas guidelines, those amounts are deemed to also be consistent with the “best interest” of the child.

In Texas, the parent which is required to make the child support payments is referred to as the “obligor,” and the recipient parent is referred to as the “obligee.” In nearly all cases, the obligor is the parent who doesn’t have primary physical custody – in other words, the “non-custodial” parent. The obligee is presumed under Texas law to be using his or her resources to take good care of the child.

The Conditions of Child Support Termination

In Texas, child support can be terminated when certain conditions occur. The conditions which will trigger termination are as follows: the child turning 18 years of age or the completion of high school (the later of the two events), emancipation via marriage, or the death of the child. Texas law also provides that a child who possesses certain disabilities may receive child support for as long as the disability exists. But, if a support order based on disability is created, this obligation may cease when the disability goes away.

Overview of the Child Support Guidelines

As mentioned, Texas law sets child support amounts based on the “guidelines.” The guidelines are based on a person’s “net monthly income,” which means a person’s gross income minus certain permissible deductions. Texas will set child support amounts according to two separate “tracks”: the first track applies to those who have a net monthly income of $7,500 or less, and the next track is for those with net monthly incomes above $7,500.

After monthly net income is determined, amounts are set using the following system: one child is 20% of net monthly income, two children are 25% of net monthly income, three children are 30% of net monthly income, four children are 35% of net monthly income, five children are 40% of net monthly income, and six children or more are not less than 40% of net monthly income. Courts may deviate from these fixed percentages and grant an amount which is greater, but only if the obligee can prove that there is a need for a greater amount. This may happen, for instance, when the obligee can prove that the child needs additional funds for certain activities, such as extracurriculars, or has other needs, such as tuition or childcare. However, there is a limit to how much additional money may be granted. The court limits the exceeded amount to what the obligee can substantiate with documentation; the court cannot grant more money beyond what has been solidly proven. So, if an obligee can only prove that a child needs $400 more than what the guidelines show, then $400 is the most which the court can award in excess of the guidelines amount.

There are more details to the support guidelines, but discussing all these details is beyond the scope of our piece here. We will come back and discuss these other details in the future.

Contact Goldsberry, Portz & Lutterbie, PLLC for Additional Resources

If you would like to learn more about child support in Texas, or another related family law topic, reach out to one of the attorneys at Goldsberry, Portz & Lutterbie, PLLC today by calling 281-485-3500.

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