One of the major concerns families have when going through a Texas divorce is how support will be paid to the custodial parent from the non-custodial parent.
Custodial, for clarification’s sake, is the language that our State utilizes to define the parent with whom the child of the marriage lives with primarily from the parent with whom the child has visitation with on a set basis. When a potential client walks into the Law Office of Bryan Fagan with a question such as this, our response would be similar to the following blog post.
Parents Have a Duty to Care for their Children
It is a given that all parents have a duty to care for their children. I’m sure we all know some parents whose actions may differ from this concept but as a general rule, the State of Texas believes that even if you rarely see your child you have a duty to support them.
Section 151.001 of the Texas Family Code holds that it is the duty of the parents to support their children by providing them with food, shelter, closing, medical care and an education. This gets back to the questions posed in the opening paragraph: who will pay the support, when is the support to be paid and how much should be paid?
How Much is Child Support in Texas?
Fortunately, most parents can figure out the amount of support to be paid by looking at the Texas Family Code and matching up how many children there are that need to be paid. For example, for one child, the non-custodial parent will need to pay 20% of their net income in child support. For two children, 25% of their net income needs to be paid, etc.
The non-custodial parent can get “credits” for support owed to other children not before the court during this divorce but for most families the straight percentages above will apply.
What income is considered for Child Support in Texas?
What sources of income are considered? The following are considered fair game when calculating child support:
- -all wages and salary income
- -overtime pay
- -net rental income
- -self-employment income
- -interest, dividends and royalty income
- -other income which includes severance pay, retirement and pensions, trust income, annuities, social security benefits, capital gains, unemployment, disability and workers’ compensation, gifts and prizes, spousal maintenance and alimony
What if the parent paying child support is unemployed?
The next question at this point in the discussion may be: what happens if:
- the non-custodial parent isn’t working or
- has purposefully “underemployed” him or herself- meaning they have chosen to work a job where they earn less income that they are able to elsewhere.
In situations such as these, the court can impute additional earnings if they believe the foregoing to be true- that someone is purposefully under-employing themselves in order to avoid having to pay a certain amount of child support.
This is done through either applying the earnings that the court believes the person is capable of earning or simply applying support at the amount of what the federal minimum wage level based on the standard 40 hour work week.
Child Support Deductions?
When it comes to what is taken out of your income there are taxes, exemptions and other allowable items that are deducted prior to arriving at the net income level that the child support will be assessed against. These items include:
- -federal income taxes (based on a single person’s tax filing along with one exemption/standard deduction)
- -union dues
- -social security taxes
- -Medicare taxes
- Health insurance costs paid for the children only
- -nondiscretionary retirement plan contributions if not covered by Social Security
- Certain other resources are excluded from resources available for child support calculation purposes including
- -accounts receivable
- -Welfare payments
- -payments received for foster care of a child
- -return of principal or capital
Child Support Income Cap
For some non-custodial parents, their net resources are relatively high. The State of Texas will cap that income, whatever the amount, at $8,550.
The caveat to this rule is that if the proven needs of the child are shown to be greater than the maximum allowable monthly support obligation, then the court may increase that child support responsibility proportionately.
The court can order one or both parents to pay the difference between the guidelines support detailed above and the amount that the special needs child requires. The judge, however, cannot order more than the presumptive amount of support or 100% of the child’s proven needs. The parents can always agree to pay more support than would be required by a judge which ties into this office’s general principle that mediation/settlement is the best way to problem solve a divorce.
The Houston Divorce attorneys at the Law Office of Bryan Fagan are not only knowledgeable about the laws that apply to divorce cases in Texas, but are advocates for our clients and their families. Our office and its attorneys are available to answer questions about child support and a multitude of other family law issues.
If you want to know more about what you can do, CLICK the button below to get your FREE E-book: “16 Steps to Help You Plan & Prepare for Your Texas Divorce”
Other Articles you may be interested in:
- Child Support Modification in Texas (Part 1)
- What do I do if I have overpaid child support in Texas?
- Child Custody Basics in Texas
- Child Support and College Tuition in Texas
- Texas Child Support Appeals
- In Texas are Child Support and Visitation Connected?
- Why Ignoring Child Support Obligations is a Bad Idea in Texas
- Texas Child Support – Trust and Annuities
- Special Needs Children in Texas Child Support Cases
- How to get above guideline child support.
Law Office of Bryan Fagan | Spring Divorce Lawyer
The Law Office of Bryan Fagan routinely handles matters that affect children and families. If you have questions regarding divorce, it's important to speak with ar Spring, TX Divorce Lawyer right away to protect your rights.
A divorce lawyer in Spring TX is skilled at listening to your goals during this trying process and developing a strategy to meet those goals. Contact Law Office of Bryan Fagan by calling (281) 810-9760 or submit your contact information in our online form. The Law Office of Bryan Fagan handles Divorce cases in Spring, Texas, Cypress, Spring, Klein, Humble, Kingwood, Tomball, The Woodlands, the FM 1960 area, or surrounding areas, including Harris County, Montgomery County, Liberty County, Chambers County, Galveston County, Brazoria County, Fort Bend County and Waller County.