If you are contemplating, or in the process of, divorce, you may already be wondering how child support is calculated. In the state of Texas, there are clear laws governing how a court determines the amount of child support a non-custodial parent must pay to the custodial parent.
The guidelines, outlined in Texas Family Code Section 154.125, are based on how many children the financial support aims to provide for and the monthly net resources of the parent obligated to pay them, also known as the obligor. The official guidelines are as follows:
- One child: 20%
- Two children: 25%
- Three children: 30%
- Four children: 35%
- Five children: 40%
- Six or more children: No less than 40%
If an obligor is required to pay child support for multiple children from multiple households (for instance, from both a first and second marriage), the court will take this into account and refer to Section 154. 129. Per this statute, the court will consider the number of children in need of child support before the court and the number of children the obligor is already supporting. From here, the payments will be scaled back exponentially to ensure they are sufficient and feasible.
One example of this is a case in which a parent has a son from their first marriage whom they already pay child support for and a daughter from their second marriage whom they are soon to have to make payments for. They would, per the law, be required to pay 17.50% of their monthly net resources instead of 20%.
Please note: If an obligor’s monthly net resources surpass $7,500, then these guidelines do not apply. This dollar amount is adjusted every six years to account for inflation.
Determining Monthly Net Resources
To determine how much your monthly net resources are in the eyes of the court, you must subtract the following from your monthly gross income (your income before any taxes or deductions are applied):
- Social security tax
- State income tax
- Federal income tax
- Union dues, if applicable
If funds are withheld from your paycheck to pay for your child’s health insurance, this amount may also be subtracted from your gross monthly income when calculating your monthly net resources.
For How Long Do I Have to Pay Child Support?
Child support payments are specifically for the benefit of the child and, therefore, cannot be used for any other purpose. Thus, when a child turns 18 years old or graduates from high school, they are no longer legally considered a child and are rendered ineligible for child support.
There are other circumstances that render a child “emancipated” or ineligible for child support, such as if the child:
- Obtains full-time employment;
- Joins the military;
- Gets married;
- Moves out of the custodial parent’s residence; or
- Suffers an untimely death.
On the other hand, obligors may have to pay child support long after the child turns 18 and/or graduates high school. These circumstances include if the child attends college or has a disability.
Determining child support payments and for how long they must be paid may seem easy but, when all details are considered, can become quite complicated. At the Law Offices of Frank E. Mann, P.C., our team will help you draft child support arrangements and negotiate a fair agreement with your child’s best interests at heart.
Contact us online or at (713) 903-8112 to schedule a free consultation.