Calculating Child Support in Texas

In a divorce or custody case, a child support order will be calculated by the court, ordering the noncustodial parent to pay the custodial parent child support for the care of the parties’ child or children. What factors play into calculating child support in a Texas custody case?

Calculation of Net Income

The first step is to get to the net income for both parents. The calculation starts with taking the parent’s gross income. This income includes the person’s salary, any commissions or overtime pay, tips, bonuses, disability income, retirement income, rental income, or any other type of money that could otherwise be considered “income.”

It should be noted that income also will include any gifts, prizes or alimony from a previous marriage. Most gross income is calculated annually.

To determine the parent’s net income, federal income for what a single person claiming one exemption is taken out. Union dues and Social Security taxes are also subtracted, as well as health insurance premiums paid for the children, if that specific parent is ordered to pay for these expenses.

The number that is left after subtracting all of this is the net income. To get to the parent’s monthly net income, simply divide the total net income by 12.

How Many Children Are Supported?

Once the noncustodial parent’s net monthly income has been determined, the court then multiples the net income by a set percentage that is based on how many children are included in the support order.

These percentages are:

  • One child = 20 percent
  • Two children = 25 percent
  • Three children = 30 percent
  • Four children = 35 percent
  • Five or more children = 40 percent

The resulting figure after the multiplication is made is the support obligation. It should be noted that if the noncustodial parent’s net income is more than $7,500 per month, the support application only applies to the first $7,500.

The court can order a higher amount if circumstances require it, but the amount cannot be more than what is needed for the child.

How Long Does Child Support Last?

The noncustodial parent is required by law to continue paying child support until the child reaches 18 years-old. The court can keep the obligation going until the child graduates high school if he or she turns 18 before that happens.

If the child happens to suffer from physical or mental disability, this obligation can extend to an indefinite period. If the child enlists in the military or gets married, the obligation also ends. The paying parent can agree to keep paying support through college under the custody agreement.

Method of Payment

Child support orders in Texas all contain income withholding orders (IWO). These require the payments to come from the paying parent’s paycheck and be sent directly to the state’s child support enforcement registry or a local registry. The payments are then sent to the other parent.

Parents who are self-employed or who work on commissions are not subject to the income withholding requirement and must pay directly to the other parent.

Parties can also agree to direct payments. This is not always recommended since a registry keeps a record of payments to protect the paying party in the event the other parent says support is not being paid.

Modification of Child Support

A child support order can be changed if enough time has passed and circumstances have changed. Sometimes, the paying parent loses a job or faces severe financial issues. In these situations, he or she can ask the court to modify the support order.

Additionally, if the paying parent suddenly gets a better job or increase in pay, the receiving parent can ask the court to modify the child support order based on this change in circumstances.

A change in circumstances means that the circumstances of the child or either parent has substantially changed since the last order. If three years has passed, the person must show that the new support amount would be at least 20% different or $100 from the original amount.

It is best to work with an attorney before filing for a change in child support to ensure that the prerequisites for a change have been met.

Contact A Custody Lawyer Today

If you have questions about how child support will be calculated in your case, please contact family lawyers at Scott M. Brown and Associates. You can reach us by calling (979) 318-3075 or completing our online form. We have offices in Angleton, Webster/Clear Lake, and Pearland.

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