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The basics of Texas child support: requests, factors and guidelines

In Texas, like in other states, the custodial parent of a child under the age of 18 (or a disabled/”special needs” child of any age) has the right to seek child support payments from the non-custodial parent. If co-parents cannot make workable child support arrangements on their own, then court intervention could be necessary.

If you, or a loved one, is currently involved in a child support dispute, or you anticipate that you will be in the future, it is important to have at least a cursory understanding of how the process of securing a child support award works. This involves having some basic information about how support amounts are calculated according to Texas statutes, and what factors a judge will use when determining if child support is necessary.

Getting started

If court assistance is necessary, then the court may also consider ordering child support payments in an amount other than that established by the guidelines if the evidence rebuts the presumption that application of the guidelines is in the best interests of the child. For this, the judge will use factors set forth in the Chapter 154, Subchapter A of the Texas Family Code. These include:

  • Age and physical/mental condition of child
  • Financial situation of each parent (including ability of one party to pay and whether or not the custodial parent actually needs the income)
  • Child care expenses that would be incurred to let the custodial one parent work outside the home
  • Resources and income available to the one seeking support
  • Amount of spousal maintenance (alimony) being paid by one party
  • Time each parent spends with the child
  • Health insurance costs for the child
  • Education expenses
  • Other expenditures currently being paid by the party from whom support is being sought
  • “Extraordinary” expenses on behalf of the child (which can include tutoring, mental health counseling, extracurricular activities and more)
  • Debts of each party
  • Other factors the court could deem relevant

Moving forward

Once a determination has been made that child support is appropriate, an amount must then be calculated. The statutes, specifically Texas Family Code § 154.125, provide the guidelines by which support is determined for the majority of Texans. The guidelines are only applicable to those payers whose net resources do not exceed $8550 per month. This amount is a very recent adjustment – it went into effect on September 1, 2013 – from the previous level of $7500.

The guidelines then assign a percentage of a paying parent’s income to each child for whom support is being sought. For example, for one child, the guidelines would take the net resources of the paying parent – $8,000 for demonstrative purposes – and determine what 20 percent of the net resource income is. That number – $1600 for our example – is the monthly child support obligation. The percentage changes as more children are added, with the support of two children being 25 percent of net income, three children being 30 percent and so forth.

More questions?

Do you still have questions about the Texas child support process or other family law matters? Would you like more information about requesting – or disputing a request that you pay – child support? Do you need help navigating the family court system? If the answers to any of these questions is “yes,” seek the advice of an experienced Texas family law attorney in your area.

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