Child support represents every parent’s obligation to provide for their progeny’s basic needs, including food, clothing and shelter. When parents separate or divorce, that usually means dividing up the support obligation according to each parent’s financial means.
Whether you expect to pay or expect to receive, understanding more about how child support is calculated in Texas can be helpful as you make your financial plans for the future.
It’s all about net income and the number of children involved
The guidelines used by this state say that:
- First, a paying parent’s gross annual income has to be determined. That includes all income streams, including wages, tips, self-employment, rental income, interest on investments, dividends from stocks and supplemental income from any “side gigs.” Even unemployment, retirement benefits and Social Security may go into the calculations. Once the figure is determined, it’s divided by 12 to establish a monthly income.
- Then, the paying parent’s net monthly income has to be established. Things like taxes, union dues, medical and dental insurance benefit payments that cover the child and additional support payments that are already being made can be deducted from the gross monthly income to get the net amount.
- Finally, a percentage of that net income is allocated to the support payment. If there’s one child involved, 20% of the paying parent’s net income will typically be used for support. That figure increases to 25% for two children, 30% for three children and so on.
It’s important to note that the court can deviate from the standard support guidelines when it deems necessary.
With the “best interests of the child” in mind, the court can consider the age of the children involved, any special needs they may have, the amount of possession and access each parent has to the child (although even with a 50/50 split in parenting time, one parent can still end up paying support to the other), extraordinary educational or medical expenses, child care needs and any other financial resources that are available for the child’s support. The standard formula also doesn’t apply if the paying spouse’s monthly income is unusually high.
Because child support issues are rarely as cut and dried as the formula would make it seem, it’s always wise to have experienced legal guidance when you’re approaching the court about this issue.