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Child Support Guidelines in Texas: An Overview

Child support

The parent’s presence in a child’s life is incredibly important. A child needs a primary caretaker, someone they can rely on to take care of them and love them unconditionally while teaching them about the world. The primary caregiver should also provide financial support to help with daily expenses. In Texas, there are child support guidelines that set the maximum legal amount a noncustodial parent must pay in monthly child support.

This blog aims to give an informative overview of child support guidelines in Texas to help the readers learn about the state guidelines. However, consulting a competent family law attorney is highly recommended so that other questions can be addressed. 

Child Support – What Is It?

As a kid grows up, parents are financially responsible for them. It is anticipated that if you are the custodial parent, you will pay your share. 

Kid support payments are necessary until your child turns 18, joins the military, or the court considers them emancipated. However, the non-custodial parent is usually obliged to pay lifetime child support if the child has special needs.

It’s up to you to decide whether or not the noncustodial parent needs to pay child support. 


Support Paid by Noncustodial Parent

In Texas, physical possession decides who pays child support. In most circumstances, the “noncustodial parent,” the parent with the least amount of time with the kid (or children), pays child support. The “obligor” is the parent who pays support.

The noncustodial parent’s income is used to calculate the payment. The Texas, child support guidelines are a charge schedule that you may use to estimate your child support payments.

Parents may pay more than the suggested amount, but not less. But a judge must authorize the payments. In certain cases, the rules’ outcome is unjust to a parent or kid. In some circumstances, a court will weigh many considerations and may increase or decrease support.

Just because one parent pays child support doesn’t imply the other parent is exempt from child-rearing expenses.

Assumption: The custodial parent uses the funds for the kid. In other words, the custodial parent pays child support via daily child care expenses.

Basic Eligibility and Calculations

Texas Family Code Section 154 explains how child support is calculated. The guidelines state that child support payments are based on a percentage of monthly net resources and the number of children in need. 

A parent’s monthly net income is multiplied by the percentage to calculate child support. For example, child support for one kid is computed at 20% of net resources, for two children at 25%, for three at 30%, and so on. For six or more children, the amount cannot be less than the amount for five children.

The court will examine a parent’s gross income and any other income to determine their monthly net resources. Income from investments such as interest and dividends could be included in this additional income. The court will then waive state and federal income taxes and the child’s health insurance.

While the court may approve a non-standard child support amount, many factors must be present. This includes pre-existing disabilities or ailments that require additional support for the child’s benefit.

The monthly support payments will change as each child involved turns 18 or graduates high school. The noncustodial parent can then update their payments based on the remaining eligible children. A Family Court may also require a parent to pay ‘retroactive’ child support (also known as arrears) if they have previously neglected to support a kid or children.

To determine whether Texas Family Code 154.123 applies, the court must take into account the following:

  • The child’s age and requirements; the parents’ capacity to help
  • The child’s financial resources
  • Custody and access to a kid for a certain period
  • A rise in or reduction in income of the obligee or income attributable to the obligee’s property and assets
  • Child care costs spent by either parent to keep a job
  • Any other kid in either party’s care
  • What alimony or spousal support is a party paying or receiving;
  • Obligor or obligee has a car, housing, or other perks provided by his or her job or corporate organization.
  • Special educational, health care, or other expenses of the parties or of the child
  • The cost of travel to exercise possession of and access to a child 
  • Positive or negative cash flow from any real and personal property and assets, including real estate, personal property, and business assets.

Given the foregoing conditions and circumstances, the court may decide that a higher child support payment is in the child’s best interest.


Number of Children

Once you’ve estimated the noncustodial parent’s net monthly income, multiply the noncustodial parent’s net monthly income by a percentage depending on the number of kids the paying parent supports.

  • One kid equals 20% of monthly net income
  • Two kids equal 25% of monthly net income
  • Three kids equal 30% of monthly net income
  • Four kids equal 35% of monthly net income
  • Five kids equal 40% of monthly net income
  • The quantity must be at least the same for six or more children.

In addition to the standards’ support level, the parents must fund the child’s health insurance. While the noncustodial parent is presumed to give this benefit, it may be quickly transferred to the other parent if necessary. For example, if the noncustodial parent does not have health insurance, the custodial parent may offer it.


50/50 child support

In certain cases, parents agree to equal parenting time, so neither is the “custodial conservator.” In this instance, parents may agree on whatever child support plan works for them and their kid.

When courts grant this 50/50 ownership on their own will, which is rare, calculating child support becomes more difficult, various layouts have been used statewide.

When parents’ salaries are comparable, courts may not mandate child support. A court may compel each parent to pay for normal expenditures (food, shelter, etc.) while the kid is in custody.

If a court determines that one of the parents is “custodial,” the judge may compel the parent with the higher income to pay the difference to the parent with the lower income. In circumstances of equal possession time, ask an attorney how your court generally allocates child support.


Health Insurance Costs for Children

Affordability of health (and dental) insurance is required.

Texas law compels child support payers to provide health insurance (and even dental coverage) for their children, but only if they can do it affordably. The state defines acceptable cost as paying no more than 9% of gross yearly income for health insurance and no more than 1.5% for dental coverage.

Of course, many parents have access to kid health insurance via their work. Parents should choose the most reasonable insurance choice. Some families may seek help from government programs. Low-income families may qualify for Medicaid or CHIP, says the Texas Department of Human Services.


Without a spouse, who has legal custody of a child in Texas?

Unless the father establishes his paternity, the mother has automatic legal and physical custody of the child in Texas. Even though the father is included on the child’s birth certificate, he has limited parental rights.


Mothers’ Rights in Texas

Unmarried mothers may have greater rights than wed mothers in certain scenarios under Texas child custody rules. A father whose paternity is not legally proven may not have visitation rights to the child.

Unmarried moms have the same rights as wed mothers. As the sole custodian, the mother can make all legal decisions for her child, such as medical and educational decisions.

A caveat is that, if the father isn’t legally recognized, the mother can’t collect child support.


Fathers’ Rights in Texas

Unmarried dads’ rights in Texas are dependent on legal identification as fathers. If so, they have the same rights as a married parent. Otherwise, their parental rights are denied.

First, an unmarried parent must legally demonstrate his fatherhood. It needs more than a birth certificate to do this. A paternity suit or an admission of paternity may prove paternity.

Unmarried couples in Texas must sign an admission of paternity form that:

  • Are signed by both parents;
  • Identify the child’s assumed father or say that none exists.
  • Indicate that no other father has been adjudicated;
  • Include any genetic testing findings.

A suspected father must sign a denial of paternity. When the mother’s spouse is not the biological father, this may happen.

If one parent refuses to sign the acknowledgment, the other parent might file a paternity action to prove fatherhood. If the parties cannot agree on paternity, the court may mandate genetic testing.


Statute of Limitation (Limitation Period)

Anyone intending to question an assumed father’s paternity must do so within four years of the child’s birth unless:

  • The supposed father thought the kid was his or
  • Neither the mother nor the assumed father was sexually active at the time of conception.
  • If no supposed father exists, an unmarried father may initiate a paternity suit in Texas at any time. They may even pursue paternity when the kid is an adult.


Takeaway: Understanding the Texas child support guidelines can make a big difference in your outcome. Speak with Scott M. Brown & Associates Attorney today if you need help!

After all, this list is not entirely complete. There may be other factors that affect the amount of child support that you pay or receive in Texas. But these are among the primary considerations in how Texas calculates child support.

The most accurate way to determine child support payments is with the help of a child support attorney or professional in your state. Scott M. Brown & Associates can assess your case, all of the information about your income, and more to give you an exact estimate of what you should expect. Schedule your consultation with us now!

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