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Texas Child Support 2024

Understanding Texas Child Support Calculations (2024 Update)

In Texas, child support laws aim to ensure fair financial support for children after separation or divorce. This applies throughout the state, including Houston. The system considers both parents’ income and the child’s needs to determine a child support amount.

While the core principles remain the same, there have been some recent changes to Texas child support laws in 2024. These include preventing inheritance from shielding child support debts and allowing the renewal of expired liens on property.

Short Summary

  • Texas child support laws aim to ensure fair financial support for children post-separation or divorce, considering both parents’ incomes and the child’s needs.
  • Recent updates include preventing inheritance from shielding child support debts and allowing the renewal of expired liens on property.
  • Child support in Texas is calculated based on the paying parent’s net monthly income and the number of children, with specific percentages outlined in the Texas Family Code.
  • While there’s a maximum limit on income used for calculations, there’s no direct cap on the final child support amount. However, there’s also no pre-set minimum mandated by law.
  • Applying for child support in Texas can be done online through the Texas Office of the Attorney General (OAG) website or in person at a local child support office. Necessary documents include proof of income and basic information about the parents and child.

What is Child Support? 

Child support is a legal obligation for a parent to financially contribute to the care of their child [Texas Family Code § 154.001 et seq.]. This financial support is typically paid by the parent who does not have primary custody of the child to the parent who does. The purpose is to ensure the child’s basic needs are met, even when the parents live apart.

Are there any Recent Changes to Texas Child Support Laws in 2024? 

Here’s a highlight of some key changes to Texas child support laws in 2024:

No Escape Through Inheritance

Inherited property can now be used to pay child support. Before, people could inherit money or property and avoid using it to pay past-due child support. A recent change in Texas law (TFC amendment) now allows courts to use inherited assets to cover these obligations.

Expired Liens Can Be Renewed

Expired child support liens can now be renewed. In the past, some child support liens (claims against property) expired after 10 years. Now, these liens can be renewed, so the debt doesn’t just disappear over time.

Focus on Employment

Proposed law targets parents avoiding child support by not working. House Bill 2246 (still in the legislative process as of March 20, 2024) proposes changes that could empower courts to address situations where a parent avoids child support payments due to intentional unemployment or underemployment.  If this law passes, courts could order these parents to find a job or training to meet their child support obligations.

How Child Support is Calculated in Texas? 

Texas has a set of rules for calculating child support, laid out in the Texas Family Code. Here’s the breakdown::

Net Monthly Income: The main thing considered is how much money the parent paying child support makes each month after taxes and deductions (called net income).

More Kids, More Support: The percentage used for child support depends on how many children you have with your ex-partner:

  • 1 child – 20% of net monthly income
  • 2 children – 25% of net monthly income
  • 3 children – 30% of net monthly income
  • 4 children – 35% of net monthly income
  • 5 children – 40% of net monthly income
  • 6 or more children – no less than 40% of net monthly income

Other Considerations (not used in the initial calculation):

  • Child’s needs (housing, food, clothing, healthcare)
  • Income of the custodial parent (in some cases)
  • Childcare expenses (in some cases)

What is the Maximum Limit Child Support in Texas? 

Texas child support has a maximum limit on the income used for calculations, but not a direct cap on the final child support amount. Here’s what that means:

  • Even if you make more, they only use $9,200: Let’s say a parent makes $15,000 a month. For child support calculations, they’ll only look at the first $9,200.
  • The percentage still applies: Child support is based on a percentage of the paying parent’s income (like 20% for 1 child). So, even though they only use $9,200 for calculations, the percentage is applied to that amount.
  • Rare exceptions exist: In very uncommon situations, the court might consider more than $9,200. This could happen if the child has special needs or there’s a huge difference in income between the parents.

Basically, there’s a limit on what income they count, but it affects the final support amount indirectly [Texas Family Code § 154.053(a)]. 

Is there a Minimum Amount of Child Support in Texas?

No, Texas child support does not have a pre-set minimum amount mandated by law [Texas Family Code § 154.001 et seq.].

The child support calculation considers the paying parent’s net monthly income and a set percentage based on the number of children. However, there’s no established minimum threshold for the final amount.

  • Net Monthly Income: Texas uses percentages of the paying parent’s net monthly income, with the percentage increasing slightly for more children. (e.g., 20% for 1 child, 25% for 2 children).
  • Minimum Not Guaranteed: Even if the calculation results in a very low amount, that becomes the court-ordered child support, unless other factors are considered.

Important Considerations:

  • Low-Income Provisions: Texas has special rules for parents with very low income (less than $1,000 per month net). These rules might result in a slightly higher minimum payment than the standard calculation.
  • Court Discretion: In rare circumstances, the judge might deviate from the standard calculation and potentially order a higher amount if the child has exceptional needs or there’s a vast difference in parental income [Texas Family Code § 154.053(a)].

FAQs about Texas Child Support

Child support can be a source of confusion and worry for parents in Texas. Here, we’ll address some frequent concerns:

How Much Child Support Will I Pay/Receive?

The amount is calculated based on a formula in the Texas Family Code (Chapter 154) [Texas Family Code § 154.001 et seq.]. There are set percentages for child support depending on the number of children. However, a judge might adjust the final amount based on certain things, like childcare costs.

What Happens If My Income Changes?

If your income dramatically goes up or down, you might be able to ask the court to change the child support amount. You’ll need to show proof of the change and how it affects your ability to pay or meet your needs [Texas Family Code § 154.003(b)]. Consulting with an attorney is recommended for navigating modifications.

What If the Other Parent Isn’t Paying Child Support?

Texas has enforcement mechanisms in place. The court can garnish wages, intercept tax refunds, or place liens on property to collect owed child support [Texas Family Code § 157.001 et seq.].

How Can I Apply Child Support in Texas? 

There are several ways to apply for child support in Texas:

Online Application 

The Texas Office of the Attorney General (OAG) offers a user-friendly online application process [Texas Family Code § 154.001 et seq.]. You can access it through the OAG’s website:

In-Person Application

You can visit your local child support office and request a paper application. The OAG website provides a locator tool to find your nearest office:

Documents Needed

Regardless of the application method, you’ll need to provide basic information about yourself, the other parent, and your child(ren). This may include:

  • Social Security numbers
  • Driver’s license numbers
  • Contact information
  • Employment history
  • Proof of income

Still Confused about Child Support? Talk to Our Child Support Attorneys in Houston, TX Now!

At Scott M. Brown & Associates, we understand the importance of child support in securing your child’s future. We offer experienced family law attorneys who can guide you through the Texas child support system effectively.

Contact Scott M. Brown & Associates today for a consultation to discuss your specific situation and receive personalized legal advice. By seeking legal guidance, you gain peace of mind knowing your child support case is handled accurately and fairly.

Aside from our law office in Houston, we also provide solution and legal services to Family Law, Criminal Defense, and Personal Injury cases in Angleton, Pearland, League City, Texas.

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