Texas Child Support Laws

Whether a court decides to grant sole physical custody of children to one parent or split parenting time between both parents after a divorce, the noncustodial parent generally has to provide support payments to the custodial parent to help cover child-care costs. However, the value of child support payments varies significantly on a case-by-case basis, based both on the standardized formula established under state law and other factors. Once you get the hang of Texas child support laws, you should be able to effectively negotiate an arrangement that serves your children’s best interests as well as your own when you file for divorce online.

The Texas State Formula for Child Support

The amount of child support a noncustodial parent will owe to the custodial parent depends largely on the former’s net monthly income. Net income is the difference between the gross income a noncustodial parent earns and the various qualified expenses they pay each year. When calculating child support obligations, “gross income” includes not only wages and salary, but also irregular income such as:

  • Tips
  • Bonuses
  • Overtime pay
  • Sales commissions
  • Revenue from rental properties
  • Severance packages
  • Unemployment benefits
  • Retirement savings
  • Social Security payments
  • Workers’ compensation benefits
  • Personal injury settlements
  • The market value of certain types of property (only in some cases)

After determining a noncustodial parent’s gross income, the court overseeing a child support determination will subtract yearly expenses like federal income tax, Social Security taxes, health insurance and/or other medical costs for children, and union dues. The total divided by 12 is the noncustodial parent’s net monthly income, which is then multiplied by a standardized percentage based on the number of children in need of support (i.e., a minimum of 20 percent for one child, and 40 percent or more for six or more children) to calculate that parent’s base child support obligation per month.

Challenging the Child Support Formula

It should be noted that a judge can “impute” income into child support calculations if they believe a noncustodial parent is intentionally hiding income or remaining underemployed to minimize their support obligations. Additionally, there are numerous valid grounds upon which either parent could seek an increase or decrease in the support amount determined by the standard formula. Factors that could impact a final child support order in Texas include:

  • How much time a child spends with either parent
  • Each parent’s ability to provide sufficient support to the child
  • Expenses related to childcare
  • The child’s age and/or special needs
  • Educational expenses for the child, including for post-secondary education
  • The custodial parent’s resources compared to the noncustodial parent’s
  • Travel costs during custody changes

If there is a material change in the family’s circumstances after a support order goes into effect, either parent may request that a court reevaluate the order and potentially adjust support obligations again.

Learn More about Child Support Laws in Texas

While there is a standard formula for calculating support under state law, there really isn’t a one-size-fits-all solution to child support. Accordingly, negotiating for deviations from the formula’s result could be crucial to ensuring your child gets the support they need while also protecting your own financial wellbeing. Understanding Texas child support laws can help you meet the various legal requirements associated with requesting financial support from a co-parent. When you are ready, download our DIY divorce kit to avoid attorneys’ fees and get the job done on your own.


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