Different people earn their incomes in different manners. At the Law Office of Bryan Fagan, PLLC, we have clients who are a salaried employee working for a major corporation. Others work as hourly employees working for medium sized businesses. Still others are independent contractors who are paid based on specific jobs that are completed. No matter how you earn an income, the odds are favorable that this income will count towards the amount of child support you are expected to pay if a Court has ordered this responsibility upon you.
A court in the State of Texas will calculate your child support responsibility by determining your net income based on some factors we are about to discuss. Next, the judge will apply a guideline set forth in the Texas Family Code to settle on a specific percentage of your income to be considered for support. Last, there are sometimes factors that are specific to your case which necessitate either decreasing or increasing the monthly support obligation. How child support is calculated and what is considered to be income is a major part of any child custody or divorce case in Texas.
A Note on Child Support
In Texas family law cases, one parent is typically named a primary joint managing conservator meaning that the child of the marriage or relationship will reside with that parent primarily. The other non-primary parent will more than likely be expected to pay child support towards the care and maintenance of the child.
The reason that the State imposes a child support burden on this parent is because if not for the parents of the child, the State would most likely have to pay to support the child. If you are a parent who fits this description you should be concerned not only with what you earn from your job, but what other sources of income you have available to you.
What income is considered in Net Resources
The Texas Family Code determines what can be and what cannot be considered when it comes to net resources of a parent. There are upwards of thirty items that are considered relevant for the purposes of our discussion. Straightforward examples that would not surprise most folks are a person’s wages, salary, commissions, bonus pay and overtime pay. Other sources of income that some people wouldn’t initially consider to be relevant that the State does are unemployment benefits, disability benefits, and gift income.
At this point, let’s consider the situation of a current client of the Law Office of Bryan Fagan, PLLC. This gentleman was injured severely in a motor vehicle accident in 2014 and began to draw disability benefits from an insurance policy taken out shortly before the accident. As a result, he stopped receiving a salary from his employer and instead received disability benefits as his and his family’s main source of money. When his wife filed for divorce against him, our client was operating under the mistaken impression that these disability payments were not to be included in the calculation for child support.
It was a difficult but necessary conversation when one of our attorneys made him aware of the error in his conclusion that this pay was off limits for child support purposes. Fortunately, the discussion was had early on in the process and our client was able to settle his case (including child support) without needing to see the inside of a courtroom.
Underemployment and its effect on child support calculations
An issue that clients often have to come to grips with in a divorce or child custody case purposeful underemployment. By underemployment I mean working a job that earns a person substantially less income than they might normally earn based on their education and work experience.
From personal experience I have seen courts determine that, yes, a parent is purposefully under-employing themselves but it is not clear that they are doing so in order to limit their exposure to pay child support. In this situation the court did not rule that the party was purposefully underemployed and their net resources reflected their current rate of pay and earnings. In other instances I have seen the court find someone to be purposefully underemployed no matter if it was clear to the judge that the person was doing so solely to avoid child support exposure.
In situations where a parent’s behavior is severe, the opposing party can call an accountant to testify as an expert witness to speak to the judge about the economic situation of the parties. This type of witness can act as an expert at knowing just what someone in a specific work field and a specific educational background may earn on average depending on where they reside.
The moral of the above situation is that courts do not like to see people doing anything to manipulate their income to avoid paying child support. Furthermore, the explanation of the parent whose income has changed often can only provide hollow sounding responses to questions as to why their income has dramatically changed of late. A simple walk through of their earning history can show where their income was trending- up or down. If a judge gets the impression that a career change was made solely or primarily to hinder the ability to pay child support it may impact your case dramatically.
The Law Office of Bryan Fagan, PLLC- Experienced Advocates in Texas Family Law
When it comes to the calculation of child support, the objective factors used by judges to figure out how much you ought to pay are fairly well established. However, an experienced courtroom attorney, such as those with the Law Office of Bryan Fagan, PLLC, can assist you in helping to counteract testimony from an opposing party who may wish to “oversell” your past earnings or your future earning capacity.
No parent wants to deny support to their children, but an overestimation of net resources can diminish a parent’s ability to provide for and support their child in other areas of life. Please contact our office today to learn more about family law cases in Southeast Texas and how the Law Office of Bryan Fagan, PLLC can assist you and your family.
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Other Articles you may be interested in:
- Texas Child Support Enforcement
- Can my Texas Driver's License Be Suspended for Not paying Child Support?
- What do I do if I have overpaid child support in Texas?
- Child Custody Basics 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, PLLC | Spring Divorce Lawyers
The Law Office of Bryan Fagan, PLLC routinely handles matters that affect children and families. If you have questions regarding divorce, it's important to speak with one of our Spring, TX Divorce Lawyers right away to protect your rights.
Our divorce lawyers in Spring TX are skilled at listening to your goals during this trying process and developing a strategy to meet those goals. Contact Law Office of Bryan Fagan, PLLC by calling (281) 810-9760 or submit your contact information in our online form. The Law Office of Bryan Fagan, PLLC 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.