Child Support in Texas and How it Relates to Custody
One of the things a court decides in a case involving children is who will have custody of them. Normally, but not always, this is a parent. The parent who does not have custody of the child pays support to whomever does have custody. Child support is set by guidelines in Texas. The law presumes that the guideline child support amount is in the child’s best interest, but the court can decide that application of the guidelines would be unjust or inappropriate under the circumstances. The experienced child support attorneys at Boudreaux Hunter & Associates, L.L.C. can help you to calculate the amount of guideline support and assist you to request that the actual amount be higher or lower than the guidelines.
Shannon Boudreaux, one of the firm’s two founding partners, began practicing law in 2003 after graduating from South Texas College of Law, where she was named to the Dean’s list. She handles a full range of custody issues, including LGBTQ issues and pet custody. Kevin Hunter, the firm’s other founding partner, teamed up with Ms. Boudreaux as a child support attorney after military service, including a career as a firefighter. Mr. Hunter, also a graduate of South Texas College of Law, excelled in oral advocacy while in school.
Calculation of Child Support Begins with Net Resources
The first step in determining child support is to add up the total annual resources of the “obligor,” or in other words, the parent paying child support. By statute, resources is broadly defined to consist of:
- All wage and salary income and other compensation for personal services (including commissions, overtime pay, tips, and bonuses);
- Interest, dividends, and royalty income;
- Self-employment income;
- Net rental income; and
- All other income actually being received is used for child support purposes, including, among other things, severance pay, retirement benefits, pensions, trust income, annuities, capital gains, certain social security benefits, unemployment benefits, certain disability benefits, workers’ compensation benefits, interest income from notes, gifts and prizes, spousal maintenance and alimony.
Deducting Taxes, Dues and Insurance Premiums
After determining total annual income, the court deducts these items to calculate child support:
- Social security taxes;
- Federal income tax based on the tax rate for a single person claiming one personal exemption and the standard deduction;
- State income tax;
- Union dues;
- Expenses for the cost of health insurance, dental insurance, or cash medical support for the obligor’s child ordered by the court; and
- If the obligor does not pay social security taxes, nondiscretionary retirement plan contributions.
The calculation is simplified because under the 2017 tax act, there is no longer a personal exemption. Further, Texas has no income tax and relatively few Texans belong to unions.
After these deductions are applied to the total resources, that amount is the obligor’s “net resources” used to calculate the child support amount.
Applying the Percentages
After these calculations, the court divides net resources by twelve to calculate monthly child support. Then, these percentages are applied:
20% of Obligor’s Net Resources
25% of Obligor’s Net Resources
30% of Obligor’s Net Resources
35% of Obligor’s Net Resources
40% of Obligor’s Net Resources
40% of Obligor’s Net Resources
If the obligor has been court-ordered to support any other children, then the court must make a complex calculation to take account of the prior child support order.
The Net Resources Maxout – The Texas Family Code states that the maximum amount of net resources the court should use in calculating child support is $7,500. But the statute also takes inflation into account by reviewing the maximum amount of net resources every six years. Effective September 1, 2019, the maximum guideline amount of net resources is $9,200 per month.
Guidelines Unjust or Inappropriate – The court can, but usually does not, tinker with the amount of child support set under the guidelines. The law sets forth a long list of factors that the court may consider either to order a lesser or greater amount of support that it calculates under the guidelines.
Visitation Does Not Depend on Child Support Being Current
The most fundamental principle underlying the Texas Family Code is that the best interest of a child “shall always be the primary consideration of the court.” For that reason, a court may not order that an obligor can visit the child only if the obligor is current on support. Likewise, the person with custody may not cut off visitation unless the obligor pays support as ordered by the court. Visitation with a child is independent of support.
If you or someone you know is facing support issues, you should consult with an experienced child support attorney before taking any further action. Texas Child Custody Attorneys stands ready to assist you.
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In some cases, parents can reach an agreement about all child support issues without a court hearing. This is often accomplished through mediation. In contentious cases, however, this is not possible. When co-parents are unable to work out these issues on their own, their only option is to litigate the case in court.
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Are you ready to discuss your case with an experienced child support lawyer in Texas? If so, please do not hesitate to get in touch with us. We understand how difficult it can be to go through a divorce, even if you are the one who made the decision. Our entire staff is here to offer the support, guidance, and compassionate representation you deserve.