Being worried about child support is normal if you go through a child custody case or divorce. It's normal if you're the parent who will receive child support because odds are you are losing an income from your household, and you need to be able to compensate for that by receiving a monthly payment from your ex-spouse.
If the amount is insufficient, there will be more months left at the end of the money, as Dave Ramsey says. That means your children may not be able to go to the dentist, or maybe you fall behind on your light bill.
On the other end of the spectrum, you also have concerns if you are the parent who expects to pay child support. Ultimately your biggest problem is making sure your children can live happy, stable, and consistent lives no matter who lives with whom. However, that's not to say that you don't have responsibilities beyond your children, and the payment of child support every month can make things right for you as well.
Worse yet- you've heard horror stories about lawyers figuring out creative ways to "enhance" the income of the parent with whom the children do not live primarily, and that child support payment either makes them fall behind on bills or makes them fall behind in child support.
If you are a parent going through a family law case, this blog post is for you. In it, we will discuss the maximum amount of child support you can expect to receive or pay. We will also discuss exceptions to the rule that a parent is on the hook for a maximum amount of support and other specifics that relate to paying child support in Texas.
Max Child Support in Texas
For this section, I will use the term "obligor" when referencing the parent responsible for paying child support.
The first $8,550 of the obligor's monthly net resources are fair game to be assessed for child support payments. If we go into the Texas Family Code, the rules are straightforward regarding the percentage of the obligor parent's net monthly resources that would go towards supporting their child. One child is 20%, Two children are 25% on up to 40% for five or more children.
This assumes that the obligor parent is not responsible for any other children not presently before the court. For the sake of clarity, we will make that assumption for our discussion today.
Any income earned beyond this amount per month is not typically considered when determining the amount of child support owed every month. I say not typically because it is possible for a court not strictly to follow the guideline percentages that I laid out earlier. This means that the obligor parent can, in some instances, be on the hook for paying more significantly than the statutory guidelines amount.
Courts look to the proven needs of a child to determine if a higher than guidelines amount of support is justified.
A court would examine what the Family Code calls the "proven needs" of the child in question to decide what amount of support is necessary. Typically, child support covers essentials like clothes, shelter, and food. Suppose a family is extremely wealthy and the child has experienced a great deal in their lives and has become accustomed to enhancements of their education or extracurricular activities. In that case, a judge can approve a higher than guidelines level of support. A more straightforward example may be a child who needs medical attention consistently to the extent that "guidelines" support would not provide for.
Help for the obligor parent within the Texas Family Code
If you are a mother or father who earns a high income and read this past section, your heart rate may have picked up a few notches. This section is intended to help bring it down a level or two.
Just as the Family Code allows for greater than guidelines levels of support, it also limits the "damage" by noting that no court can order an employer to withhold more than 50% of an obligor's earnings. This is good for parents who could be on the hook for a potentially significant child support obligation based on their family's past lifestyle or other circumstances.
On the other hand, the above limitation provided by the Family Code does not limit the amount that a parent can owe, however. This means that if you as an obligor become delinquent in paying child support just because the state can't force your employer to hold back everything that you owe, that doesn't mean that you won't fall further and further behind in payments.
These arrearages can become intimidatingly large. Whether brought by your child's other parent or the Attorney General of Texas, enforcement actions can provide for stiff penalties, including jail time if you fall behind to an excessive amount and show little propensity or willingness to pay the arrearages off.
I have been in courtrooms and seen men and women who owe over $200,000 sent to jail by judges because of their unwillingness to pay towards their arrearage despite higher than average income. These are extreme situations and are atypical but are worth mentioning.
Questions about child support? Contact the Law Office of Bryan Fagan, PLLC
If you have questions about child support- whether it is collecting support owed to you or modifying a prior order- please do not hesitate to contact the Law Office of Bryan Fagan, PLLC. Our licensed family law attorneys are experienced in handling matters related to child support and would be honored to speak with you about your case. A free-of-charge consultation is only a phone call away and is available six days a week.
If you want to know more about what you can do, CLICK the button below to get your FREE E-book: “Child Custody E-Book”
Other Articles you may be interested in:
- How to correctly calculate child support in Texas
- Is Overtime Pay or Bonus Pay Considered for Texas Child Support?
- The Dirty Trick of Quitting Your Job to Avoid Child Support During a Texas Divorce
- Can I get child support while my Texas divorce is pending?
- Do I Have to Pay Child Support if I Have Joint Custody of My Child in Texas?
- Can I Sue My Ex for Retroactive or Back Child Support 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
- Can I get child support and custody of my kids in Texas if we were never married?
- Handling a child support case as the non custodial parent, Part Five
- Modifying your divorce decree in Texas
- How to handle child support as the non custodial parent, Part Three