Austin Child Support Attorneys
How is Child Support Calculated in Texas?
Child support is calculated based on the paying parent’s net monthly resources, a legal term that is defined by the Texas Family Code and never means what you think it means. We start with the paying parent’s gross monthly income – not take-home income reflected on a paystub — and calculate net monthly resources using the statutory formula. These are known as “guidelines” for child support. Texas law provides for a maximum net monthly resource on which child support is calculated, so when a high wage earner makes more than the guidelines maximum, often child support will be capped. Only when the child’s proven needs are in excess of the guidelines maximum can a court order child support beyond the cap.
Once the amount of net monthly resources is determined, the amount of monthly child support to be paid under the guidelines is calculated by multiplying the paying parent’s net monthly resources by the following percentages:
- If there is only one child to support, 20%
- For two children, 25%
- Three children, 30%
- Four children, 35%
- Five children, 40%
If there are six or more children to be supported, at least 40% of the noncustodial parent’s net income should go toward child support, subject to the guidelines maximum. If the paying parent has children from other relationships, then there is a credit on these percentages.
Medical support is also ordered by the court and is an obligation in addition to monthly child support. Medical support under Texas law includes health and dental insurance coverage. The parent who pays child support is normally the parent who also must pay the health and dental insurance premiums for the child.
Child Support – Texas law allows the courts to extend child support beyond when child support typically terminates at age 18, including payment of support indefinitely. Once a special needs child turns 18, both parents’ income and ability to pay child support are taken into consideration. It is also essential to account for Supplemental Security Income (SSI) or other public benefits when paying child support to maintain eligibility for these valuable government services. We know how to obtain orders that provide for child support payments to a Special Needs Trust in order to preserve eligibility for government benefits.
Possession and Access – Texas law allows for possession and access to continue after a child with special needs turns 18. Our family law attorneys help you create appropriate possession schedules for your adult disabled child that meet the needs of your child and both parents.
Typically in a Texas divorce or custody order, one parent will have primary custody of the children, while the other parent will have rights to access and visitation. Most often the noncustodial parent pays support to the parent with primary custody.
How Can Lazar Law Help Me with Child Support?
People think child support in Texas is straightforward, but there are many legal issues to be considered when properly calculating child support.
Net monthly resources cannot be calculated simply by looking at the take-home income on a paycheck. Many things are taken into consideration when calculating net monthly resources, including salary, wages, bonuses, commissions, tips, overtime, royalties and dividends, interest income, rental income, pension and retirement benefits, disability and unemployment benefits, among others. If the parent is self-employed or a business owner, figuring out the parent’s income can be especially complicated. At Lazar Law, we take the time and make the effort to investigate and analyze all sources of income to determine the proper amount of child support to be paid.
Lazar Law can help in this process by making sure the non-custodial parent’s income is calculated fairly and accurately. Whether you are the custodial or noncustodial parent, you’ll want to make sure that your children are properly supported, while also ensuring that you are not unfairly taken advantage of in the process.
There are many situations in which a temporary or final order does not follow the child support guidelines. On temporary orders, more support may be paid in order to maintain the status quo in the primary household and meet the financial needs of the family. On final orders, a judge may deviate from the guidelines when presented with evidence of the proven needs of the children or other evidence that the paying party is willfully underemployed or unemployed, as just a few examples.
Outside of court, the child support guidelines are a baseline for settlement negotiations. When negotiating a settlement, parents may agree to more or less child support than the guidelines in exchange for other considerations that meet the parents’ and the children’s needs.
When parents are considering an equal parenting time schedule, there are many ways to address meeting the children’s financial needs, including options that don’t have one parent paying child support to the other parent.
There are so many options to discuss when child support is at issue that it is impossible to consider child support to be straightforward, even though there are statutory guidelines.
Finally, child support orders can be modified based on a material change in circumstances, such as a change in the custody arrangements, a job loss, or an increase or decrease in the child support paying parent’s income. After three years, either parent is entitled to a child support review, and child support will be increased or decreased as a matter of right if the amount the parent is paying differs by 20% or $100 from what it would be if the guidelines were applied to the parent’s current income. But you don’t have to wait three years to modify child support if you can prove a material and substantial change in circumstance that effects the current amount of child support. At Lazar Law, our Austin divorce and custody lawyers can analyze whether a modification in child support, either an increase or decrease, is in order and represent you in pursuing or defending a petition to modify child support.