Child Support Laws In Texas By Jeffery O. Anderson Board Certified in Family Law
Jeff Anderson is a Dallas child support lawyer with over 28 years of experience practicing family law. If you’re looking for the best legal counsel, look no further. Whether you’re trying to get child support reduced, increased, modified, or enforced, give us a call. We know how to fight for you and will strive to get the results you need in court.
How Are Child Support Payments Calculated?
In Texas, child support is almost always based on income. Support for one child is 20% of the obligor’s (the person paying support) net income. The support is increased by 5% of the obligor’s income for each additional child. If the obligor has a duty to support other children who are not a part of this child support order (i.e. Children from a prior relationship or from a current marriage) then there is an adjustment for each of those children. For instance, if the obligor was to pay 20% of his or her net income for one child, but there is another child who must be supported, then the 20% become 17.5%.
What Does Net Income Mean While Calculating Child Support?
The next question is usually, “what is net income for purposes of calculating child support?” Start with gross income, then take off federal income tax, social security, union dues and the amount that it costs to provide health insurance for the child or children at issue. That gives you the net income. Multiply the net income by the percentage to be paid for child support and you have your number.
Is There a Cap on Child Support Payments?
In Texas, there is a cap to the amount of child support which will be ordered. Unless there are needs of the children which go beyond the limits of the cap, then child support will be based on a maximum of $9,200.00 per month net income. For one child, that means $1,840.00 per month.For two children, it’s $2,300.00 per month and so on.
When does child support end?
Courts in Texas do not have the ability to order child support after the child has turned eighteen and graduated from high school, whichever is later. There is an exception to that rule: if there is an adult disabled child, who is not able to care for his or herself, the Court can order the payment of child support to continue indefinitely. Read more on child custody & support for children with disabilities here.
Child support can also end before the eighteenth birthday and graduation from high school. If the child marries, dies or goes into the armed services, or is otherwise emancipated, child support will usually end.
Everything You Need to Know About Calculating Child Support in Texas
In Texas, child support is most often the result of a calculation, based on the obligor’s (the paying parent’s) gross annual income. That means, under Texas law, the amount that the other parent (the obligee) makes is not taken into consideration, as it is in some other states. The income of the obligee’s spouse is also not considered. At the beginning of the child support calculation, there is only the obligor’s income.
It is important to notice that this is a calculation based on the obligor’s annual gross income. If the obligor makes bonuses or commissions, if they receive a car allowance or even if they get a regular gift of money from family members, all of those may be included in gross income if they are routinely earned or received. It will usually not make much difference if the paying parent is not guaranteed a bonus or commissions or a gift. If he or she has received those on a regular basis, they will most often be included in the calculation and the more recent history is usually the most relied upon.
From the gross income, generally only federal income taxes and social security and subtracted. Union dues may also be taken off the top, but as Texas has few unions, that is more rare.
The remainder is considered the obligor’s net income. Most of the time the obligor will also pay for the health insurance premiums for the children. The amount of those premiums is taken from the net income calculation. Keep in mind this is only the cost of health insurance for the children. If the cost of insurance by the obligor includes other children, a new spouse, or the obligor him or herself, the health insurance plan should be examined to determine only the cost of the children at issue.
Once the deduction for the health insurance is taken out, the resulting figure (from here on we’ll call this the overall net) is multiplied by a percentage, to come to the child support figure. The percentage is dependent on the number of children for whom child support is being considered and the number of other children (children who are from a different relationship) whom the obligor has a duty to support. For instance, if there is only one child, the support is 20% of the overall net income of the obligor. But if there is one child in the current case and the obligor is obligated to support one other child, then the support is 17.5% of the overall net income.
There is a conceivable cap to child support in Texas. Think of it as a glass ceiling. If the obligor makes more than $9,200.00 per month, net income, then child support will be limited to the appropriate percentage of that amount. For instance, if the obligor makes $12,000.00 per month net income and has only one child, the support is 20% of $9,200.00 (not $12,000.00), which is $1,840.00 per month.
The glass ceiling may be broken if there are needs of the child, which go beyond the child support amount. For instance, a child who is a piano prodigy and requires special training to cultivate that
talent might require more than just the regular support amount. But if the child simply wants a pony, don’t expect a Court to expand the child support beyond the cap. If there are needs of the child, which go beyond the glass ceiling, the Court should allocate those expenses between the parents, according to each parent’s ability to pay. Once again, however, that is the parents’ ability to pay, not their respective spouses.
The calculations are not necessarily difficult, but the application of the rules to the child support can be. Sometimes it takes knowing the case law or just having experience to know whether a deduction will be considered by the Court in determining child support or whether a need of the child will likely raise support beyond the statutory cap.
Ready to Call a Child Support Lawyer?
Call Jeff Anderson Family Law Attorney today to schedule a consultation. Anderson is board certified in family law by the Texas Board of Legal Specialization, a distinction reserved for a very small percentage of top lawyers in Texas. Call now or request an appointment online.