Texas Child Support Laws
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:
- 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
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