Child Support

Who Pays Child Support in a Texas Divorce?

Child support is critical to maintaining a child’s health and wellbeing following divorce, especially as both parents will experience a significant change in financial circumstances as they go their separate ways. In most cases, the child support determination is a straightforward process. In today’s blog, we will discuss who is responsible for paying child support in Texas and how the amount will be calculated based on their income.

Who Pays Child Support in Texas?

In Texas, physical custody, or the amount of time a parent spends with their child, primarily determines who will have to make child support payments. In most cases, the “noncustodial parent,” or the parent with the least amount of time with the child, pays child support. The form of “support” the custodial parent provides is the day-to-day care of the child, and the law assumes that the custodial parent will spend the child support money directly on the child.

Note that while there is a presumption that the noncustodial parent will provide health insurance benefits, that responsibility may shift to the other parent if more appropriate. For instance, if the custodial parent’s employer provides health insurance while the noncustodial parent does not have such coverage, the custodial parent may be the one to provide the child insurance.

Income-Based Calculation Guidelines

The amount of child support a parent will be required to pay will be based on a percentage of their net income, which is calculated from gross income. Gross income includes all wages, salary, commissions, military pay, tips, overtime, and bonuses. If the paying parent is unemployed, such income could be in the form of severance, retirement, unemployment benefits, and/or Social Security or workers’ compensation. Income also includes gifts, prizes, and alimony, as well as income from a property. A court may also assign an income value to assets that do not currently produce income, like a second house or car, if appropriate. For instance, if an inherited vacation home can be liquidated, a court will consider its market value as part of income.

Once the figure for gross income is set as above, the parent should then subtract the following to determine their annual net income:

  • Social Security taxes or, if they don’t pay Social Security taxes, any mandatory retirement plan contributions;
  • federal income tax (based on the tax rate for a single person claiming one exemption);
  • union dues;
  • child support paid for another child;
  • health insurance premiums and other medical expenses for the child if the court ordered them to pay these expenses.

After calculating the above, divide the annual total by 12 to find the monthly net income and multiply the amount by the following percentages depending on the number of children:

  • 1 child = multiply the monthly net income by 20%
  • 2 children = multiply the monthly net income by 25%
  • 3 children = multiply the monthly net income by 30%
  • 4 children = multiply the monthly net income by 35%
  • 5 children = multiply the monthly net income by 40%
  • 6 or more children = at least the same as for 5 children

The above is generally the calculation guideline for establishing the support amount, but if a parent believes the amount should be decreased or increased before a court issues the order, then they can ask the court to adjust it. A court will evaluate the following factors to consider deviation from the guidelines:

  • the child’s age and needs;
  • the parents’ ability to support the child;
  • financial resources and debts;
  • the time the child spends with each parent;
  • the receiving parent’s net resources;
  • childcare expenses;
  • who has managing conservatorship (legal custody);
  • alimony payments;
  • post-secondary education expenses;
  • whether either parent has additional employment benefits like housing or a company car;
  • other wage deductions;
  • extraordinary expenses like those for education or healthcare;
  • costs of the child’s travel between parents.

Modifying an Existing Order

Naturally, changes may be required as the child grows older or other significant circumstances arise. Either parent may ask a court or the Texas Attorney General’s Office to review the existing support order if they experience a material and substantial change in circumstances, such as a shift in custody, loss of employment, or international relocation. Upon review, the court may determine whether they can modify the order. If the order has been in place for 3 years or more, the court may be more lenient in granting such a modification.

Contact The Springer Law Firm PLLC for Legal Help

Child support payments are fairly straightforward to determine, as they are based primarily on a parent’s income and whether they are the custodial parent or not. The noncustodial parent is generally responsible for paying monthly support, and child support is implemented to ensure that a child has access to opportunities necessary for their health and wellbeing. If you have questions about your obligation to pay child support or who, following a divorce, will be responsible, consult an attorney at our firm to learn more.

Contact The Springer Law Firm PLLC to discuss your situation in more detail with a Katy legal professional.

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