TexasChild Support Laws
Texas Child Support Guide :: Table of Contents
Child support is an ongoing payment by a non-custodial parent to assist with the financial support of their children. Child support payments are often determined during the process of dissolution of a marriage through divorce, though the only requirements for requesting child support payments are establishment of paternity and maternity.
Child support is handled on a state level, and Texas has a set of specific child support guidelines. On this page you can learn about how child support is calculated in Texas, how custody split and extraordinary costs affect child support payments, and more.
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Texas is one of the minority of states that uses the "percentage of income" method for calculating child support payments.
In the event of parents sharing custody of a child, the Texas judge who sets child support may deviate from the basic child support formula to account for this. Other special situations accounted for under Texas' child support law include childcare costs and extraordinary medical costs. These costs may be additions to the basic Texas child support order.
Can I Contest the Guidelines?To determining if an application of the guidelines would be unjust/inappropriate under the circumstances, the court shall consider evidence of all relevant factors, including:
- the age and needs of the child
- the ability of the parents to contribute to the support of the child
- any financial resources available for the support of the child
- the amount of time of possession of and access to a child
- the amount of the obligee's net resources, including the earning potential of the obligee if the actual income of the obligee is significantly less than what the obligee could earn because the obligee is intentionally unemployed or underemployed and including an increase or decrease in the income of the obligee or income that may be attributed to the property and assets of the obligee
- child care expenses incurred by either party in order to maintain gainful employment
- whether either party has the managing conservatorship or actual physical custody of another child
- the amount of alimony or spousal maintenance actually and currently being paid or received by a party
- the expenses for a son or daughter for education beyond secondary school
- whether the obligor or obligee has an automobile, housing, or other benefits furnished by his or her employer, another person, or a business entity
- the amount of other deductions from the wage or salary income and from other compensation for personal services of the parties
- provision for health care insurance and payment of uninsured medical expenses
- special or extraordinary educational, health care, or other expenses of the parties or of the child
- the cost of travel in order to exercise possession of and access to a child
- positive or negative cash flow from any real and personal property and assets, including a business and investments
- debts or debt service assumed by either party
- any other reason consistent with the best interest of the child, taking into consideration the circumstances of the parents
What Happens if the Guidelines are Determined to be Unjust or Inappropriate?If findings are required by this section, the court shall state whether the application of the guidelines would be unjust or inappropriate and shall state the following in the child support order:
- the monthly net resources of the obligor per month are $______
- the monthly net resources of the obligee per month are $______
- the percentage applied to the obligor's net resources for child support by the actual order rendered by the court is ______%
- the amount of child support if the percentage guidelines are applied to the first $6,000 of the obligor's net resources is $______
- if applicable, the specific reasons that the amount of child support per month ordered by the court varies from the amount stated in Subdivision (4) are: ______
What are the Obligations of Child Support?if applicable, the obligor is obligated to support children in more than one household, and:
- the number of children before the court is ______
- the number of children not before the court residing in the same household with the obligor is ______
- the number of children not before the court for whom the obligor is obligated by a court order to pay support, without regard to whether the obligor is delinquent in child support payments, and who are not counted under Paragraph (A) or (B) is ______
How are Guidelines Determined for Children in More than One Household?The application of the guidelines under Section 154.129 does not constitute a variance from the child support guidelines requiring specific findings by the court under this section.
In applying the child support guidelines for an obligor who has children in more than one household, the court shall apply the percentage guidelines in this subchapter by making the following computation:
- determine the amount of child support that would be ordered if all children whom the obligor has the legal duty to support lived in one household by applying the schedule in this subchapter
- compute a child support credit for the obligor's children who are not before the court by dividing the amount determined under Subdivision (1) by the total number of children whom the obligor is obligated to support and multiplying that number by the number of the obligor's children who are not before the court
- determine the adjusted net resources of the obligor by subtracting the child support credit computed under Subdivision (2) from the net resources of the obligor
- determine the child support amount for the children before the court by applying the percentage guidelines for one household for the number of children of the obligor before the court to the obligor's adjusted net resources.
How is Child Support Determined Based on Income?If the obligor's monthly net resources are $6,000 or less, the court shall presumptively apply the following schedule in rendering the child support order:
CHILD SUPPORT GUIDELINES BASED ON THE MONTHLY NET RESOURCES OF THE OBLIGOR
- 1 child 20% of Obligor's Net Resources
- 2 children 25% of Obligor's Net Resources
- 3 children 30% of Obligor's Net Resources
- 4 children 35% of Obligor's Net Resources
- 5 children 40% of Obligor's Net Resources
- 6+ children Not less than the amount for 5 children (Added by Acts 1995, 74th Leg., ch.)
Child support can be arranged out of court by a mutual support agreement between the parents, or can be decided in Texas family court through a child support order. In Texas, a number of factors are taken into account when determining the amount of child support to be paid in court. Here is an explanation of the two most common methods used to calculate basic child support amounts.
Income Share Method
Under the income share model, the court uses economic tables to estimate the total monthly cost of raising the children. The non-custodial parent pays a percentage of the calculated cost that is based on their proportional share of both parents' combined income.
Example: The non-custodial parent of one child has an income of $2,000 per month, and the custodial parent has an income of $1,000 per month. The court estimates that the cost of raising one child is $1,000 a month. The non-custodial parent's income is 66.6% of the parent's total combined income. Therefore, the non-custodial parent pays $666 per month in child support, or 66.6% of the total child support obligation.
Percentage Of Income Method
This method of calculating child support is simple - a set percentage of the non-custodial parent's income is paid monthly to the custodial parent to cover basic child support expenses. The percentage paid may stay the same, or vary if the non-custodial parent's income changes.
Example: The non-custodial parent of one child has an income of $2,000 per month. The court orders a flat percentage of 25% of the non-custodial parent's income to be paid in child support to the custodial parent. Therefore, the non-custodial parent pays $500 per month in child support. If the non-custodial parent's monthly income changes, the dollar amount they pay in child support will change as well.
Texas Child Support FAQ
- How does having shared custody of the child affect child support in Texas?
- How are extraordinary medical costs treated by child support in Texas?
- How are child care costs treated by child support in Texas?
- Does child support cover college education expenses in Texas?
- How is child support enforced in Texas?
- What are child support arrears?
- How are child support payments taxed in Texas?
How does having shared custody of the child affect child support in Texas?
All states have a method of modifying the amount of child support owed in cases where the custody agreement provides for joint or shared custody of a child between both parents.
Texas law allows the judge overseeing the child support order to use a shared custody agreement as justification for a variation from the state's general child support calculations. This means that if the non-custodial parent shares parenting time with the custodial parent, the judge might reduce the amount of child support owed to account for the resources spent by the non-custodial parent during their time with the child.
How are extraordinary medical costs treated by child support in Texas?
Texas has specialized guidelines for the sharing of a child's extraordinary medical care costs that are separate from, and in addition to, basic child support payments. Extraordinary medical costs are generally costs generated by things such as illness, hospital visits, or costly procedures such as getting braces.
Texas treats extraordinary medical care costs as a "deviation factor", which means that the judge determining the amount of child support to be paid may take ongoing medical care costs into account when calculating the monthly amount to be paid. This means that in situations where the custodial parent needs to pay child care costs, the judge may raise the child support payments in order to help cover them.
How are child care costs treated by child support in Texas?
Due to the high costs of child care for a single payment, Texas has specialized guidelines that consider child care costs separately from the general costs of raising a child for the purposes of calculating child support payments.
Texas treats child care costs as a "deviation factor", which means that the judge determining the amount of child support to be paid may take child care costs into account when calculating the monthly amount to be paid. This means that in situations where the custodial parent needs to pay child care costs, the judge may raise the child support payments in order to help cover them.
Does child support cover college education expenses in Texas?
While the state of Texas has no explicit requirement for college expenses to be covered under child support, support for college expense by the non-custodial parent may be voluntarily agreed to by both parties, after which it is contractually enforceable.
How is child support enforced in Texas?
In the state of Texas, child support is enforced by the state child support agency. The state agency handles the location of non-custodial parents, enforcement of support orders, and the handling of unpaid child support arrears.
What are child support arrears?
Child support arrears are the amount of child support that is delinquent, or unpaid, by the noncustodial parent to the custodial parent. Child support arrears may be collected by the state through wage garnishment, bank levy. withholding of Texas welfare benefits, or other collection methods.
How are child support payments taxed in Texas?
Under IRS guidelines, the recepient of child support does not need to pay federal tax on child support payments, and the payer of child support cannot deduct their child support payments. This differs from the federal taxation of alimony payments, which are treated as taxable income by the receiver and are deductible by the payor. Texas tax law may vary on tax treatment of child support.