When it comes to a
child custody case, one of the most frequently heard questions that I receive is how
much does the State of Texas require be paid on a monthly basis in
child support. If you’re the parent who typically cares for your child during
the week the concern is that the amount that is going to be ordered paid
will not be enough to pay for all of the expenses that come with raising
a child. On the other hand, if you’re the parent who anticipates
that the burden will fall on you to pay child support then your concern
may be that whatever the ordered amount is that it will be too much for
you to afford on a monthly basis.
The bottom line is that the State of Texas has set forth a standard amount
of child support that should be paid by a
noncustodial parent to the
custodial parent based on the amount of child the noncustodial parent has responsibility
for. While we can debate whether the percentages of the owing parent’s
net income or the method of calculation is fair, the fact remains that
it is the law until further notice. How and why this child support obligation
may be deviated from is the topic of today’s blog post. In what
situations may a court order you to pay more than the amount listed in the
Texas Family Code?
Background on the calculation of child support in Texas
To figure out what your child support obligation would be you will need
to figure out what you earn each month before taxes and other amounts
are deducted. This figure, known as your
gross income, includes income earned from your salary, investments, rental income and
even disability pay/income. Basically, if you are earning money from just
about any source it counts when it comes to
child support calculations.
Once your gross income is calculated, items such as
social security taxes, health insurance premiums and union dues will be deducted to arrive
at your net monthly income. This is the amount that you will utilize in
order to figure out just what your monthly child support obligation would
be. I should note that if you earn more than $8,550 per month you will
only be responsible for paying support up to the income on $8.550. Any
amount of income that you earned beyond this number is not relevant for
child support calculation purposes.
The Texas Family Code has a chart that will determine the specific percentage
that will be multiplied by your net monthly income in order to determine
your child support obligation. It is important to note that not only is
the number of children that you have that are presently involved in your
divorce or child custody case relevant, but so is the number of other
children that you have a duty to support who are not in this current case.
Basically you get an offset based on any other children who are out there
in this world who are not the children of the opposing party to your child
custody or divorce case. Percentages range from 20% for one child up to
40% for five or more children, in terms of your monthly net income to
be paid for child support.
When is it appropriate for a court to order a child support payment greater
than the guidelines amount?
We can first look to situations where theobligor parent (the one who owes support) earns a much higher income than the
parent who receives child support or when a child needs expensive medical
treatment for when a child support order where a greater than statutory
amount must be paid.
In order to alter the guidelines amount of child support it is necessary
for you to first present evidence to the court that the guideline amount
of support that would be ordered is unjust or inappropriate as that term
is defined by the Texas Family Code. The second part of the process is
that the parent who stands to receive the child support must show the
court that there is a reasonable amount of support to pay and what their
amount is correct.
Specific factors that the judge may look at when considering a request
for a higher than guidelines amount of child support to be paid are the
needs of each child, the frequency with which each parent has
access to the children, and the financial statuses of both parents. Educational
expenses is a huge factor to be considered as well. Namely, if you are
the parent who is expected to pay for costs of a private school or daycare
then it may not be possible for a judge to order you to also pay a higher
than guidelines amount of child support.
Practical, real world factors that are also included as part of a judge’s
analysis include the cost of providing
health insurance for the children, travel costs for both parents (if any) when the children
are in their possession and also in what way was the marital estate divided.
If you are the parent who will be expected to pay child support then it
is unlikely that a court would order you pay a higher than guidelines
amount of support if your spouse was awarded a disproportionate share of the
community estate or that you took on a majority of the debts from the marriage.
Questions on Child Support? Contact the Law Office of Bryan Fagan
While I could not get into every minute detail of Texas Child Support laws
in this blog post, the
Law Office of Bryan Fagan does offer free of charge consultations if you have additional questions.
family law attorney with our office is available six days a week to meet with you
and have your questions answered. Across southeast Texas, the Law Office
of Bryan Fagan has earned a reputation for strong and effective advocacy
of our clients. We would be honored to have the opportunity to speak with
you about your family law case and to answer any questions that you may have.