A Basic Primer on How to Calculate Child Support in Texas
In Texas, child support is determined based on a percentage of the non-custodial parent's net income, with adjustments for certain expenses such as medical and dental insurance premiums, and child-care costs. The calculation is based on guidelines established by Texas law, and the specific amount of child support can vary based on the parents' income, number of children, and other factors.
The basic steps for calculating child support in Texas are as follows:
1) Determine the non-custodial parent's net income. This includes all sources of income, such as wages, bonuses, commissions, self-employment income, and investment income, minus certain allowable deductions such as taxes, Social Security, and union dues (See Texas Family Code § 154.062).
2) Multiply the non-custodial parent's net income by a percentage based on the number of children involved (See Texas Family Code § 154.125):
20% for one child
25% for two children
30% for three children
35% for four children
40% for five or more children
If the non-custodial parent's monthly net resources are less than $1,000 (as of the time of this writing), the following percentages should instead be presumptively applied:
15% for one child
20% for two children
25% for three children
30% for four children
35% for five or more children
The above percentages (i.e., for both normal and low income) only apply, however, when the non-custodial parent has no other children to support. When the non-custodial parent has obligations for other children, the Multiple-Family Adjusted Guidelines should be used. The charts for these are found in Texas Family Code §154.129.
3) After multiplying the appropriate percentages, to make an argument that the court should deviate from the above-state guidelines, add any additional expenses that are required to be paid by the non-custodial parent, such as medical or dental insurance premiums or child-care costs, to the percentage amount calculated in step 2 (see Texas Family Code § 154.123 for details).
Some other common additional factors include the following:
Child custody arrangements: The amount of time the non-custodial parent spends with the child can affect the child support calculation. For example, if the non-custodial parent has the child for a significant amount of time, their child support obligation may be reduced.
Health care needs: If the child has significant health care needs, such as a chronic medical condition or disability, the court may adjust the child support calculation to account for these costs.
Educational expenses: If the child has educational expenses, such as private school tuition or college costs, the court may consider these expenses when calculating child support.
Extraordinary expenses: If the child has other extraordinary expenses, such as extracurricular activities or travel expenses, the court may adjust the child support calculation to account for these costs.
Additional sources of income: If the non-custodial parent has additional sources of income, such as rental income or royalties, the court may consider these sources of income when calculating child support.
Income of the custodial parent: In some cases, the income of the custodial parent may be considered when calculating child support. This may happen if the custodial parent has a very high income or if the non-custodial parent has significant custody of the child.
Finally, parents may agree to a child support amount that is different from the guideline amount, but the court has the final say-so on approving such agreements. The court will evaluate agreements involving the children based on their best interests.
Final Caveat: As calculating child support in Texas can be complex, it is recommended to consult with a qualified family law attorney in Texas for specific advice regarding child support in your individual case.