As a parent, you want what's best for your child. That's why handling legal matters that could impact their future, like child support, can be so anxiety-inducing.
Whether you're acting as the payor or recipient, understanding how Texas handles child support can help you prepare for the future and secure a support arrangement that supports you and your child's best interests.
Here at Cofer & Connelly, PLLC, our Austin child support attorneys have extensive experience handling child support cases. We'll help you protect your parental rights in court and fight for the ideal child support arrangement for your child.
How Is Child Support Calculated in Texas?
The noncustodial parent (who the child spends a minority of their time with) is typically responsible for paying child support to the custodial parent (who the child lives with and spends the majority of their time with).
Like most states, Texas courts use a formula to establish how much child support the noncustodial parent owes. However, while many states use the noncustodial parent's gross monthly income to calculate child support, Texas uses their net monthly income, which can help make child support arrangements more equitable.
Your gross monthly income is based on the total capital you bring in from any income-generating resources (salary, commissions, investment or benefits accounts, etc.).
The court then subtracts the following expenses to calculate your net monthly income:
- State income taxes
- Social Security taxes
- Federal income taxes
- Union dues (if you have any)
- Health insurance expenses for the child
The court then allocates a percentage of your net monthly income to child support.
The percentage you can expect to pay for child support is:
- 20% for one child
- 25% for two children
- 30% for three children
- 35% for four children
- 40% for five children
- 40%+ for more than five children
These percentages only apply to individuals whose net monthly income amounts to $9,200 or less per month. If the noncustodial parent's net monthly income exceeds that amount, the court can request they allocate more money towards child support.
Additional Factors Considered by the Court in a Child Support Case
When courts handle child support cases, they have one objective: To try and ensure that the child maintains the same quality of life post-divorce they enjoyed while their parents were married.
To that end, courts actually have a significant amount of flexibility when determining child support obligations. They use the formula as a baseline, but it's not set in stone.
Courts consider the following factors during child support cases:
- The age and needs of the child. Some children (like those with learning differences) may need more support for extra resources such as tutors.
- Whether the child will need support after secondary school. Most child support arrangements only last until the child becomes a legal adult and reaches majority (typically at the age of 18). However, parents may be requested to provide child support past that age for various reasons (if the child cannot care for themselves, for example).
- Other expenses the noncustodial parent will have to pay for the child (health insurance, educational costs, etc.).
- Whether the noncustodial parent is already engaged in any child support arrangements. If they are, they may be obligated to pay less child support.
- The parents' custody arrangement. If the parents essentially split time with their child 50/50, the noncustodial parent will have a smaller child support obligation than if they only care for their child 20% of the time.
- The present and future financial stability of both parties. If the court determines one parent has the potential to earn more money than they currently do, it may factor that into the child support arrangement and create provisions for increased payments if that parent finds more gainful employment.
- Whether either parent receives any significant benefits like a house, car, healthcare plan, etc. from their employer (if the parent doesn't have to worry about these costs, they may have a higher child support obligation).
- The liabilities (such as debts) each party is responsible for.
- Anything else the court deems relevant to the case.
As you can see, the court has a fair amount of leeway to adjust child support arrangements as it sees fit. Every child support case is unique, which is why it's so important to have a lawyer by your side who will fight for your parental rights and help you pursue a genuinely equitable support arrangement.
Is Child Support Always Ordered in a Texas Divorce?
Divorce proceedings can be one of the most difficult times in a person's life. Along with the emotional turmoil, the legal aspects of divorce can be just as overwhelming. For couples with children, one key issue that arises is child support.
In Texas, child support is not automatically ordered in a divorce. However, it is often granted in cases where one parent has primary custody of the child and the other parent has the ability to pay support.
If you are going through a divorce and have concerns about child support, it is important to seek legal guidance from an experienced child support attorney in Texas to ensure that your rights are protected.
How Long Does Child Support Last in Texas?
In the state of Texas, child support payments are typically paid until the child reaches the age of 18 or graduates from high school, whichever occurs later. However, there are certain circumstances in which payments may continue beyond this point, such as if the child has a disability.
It's important for parents to understand their obligations and responsibilities when it comes to child support, as failure to comply with court-ordered payments can result in penalties and legal consequences.
Seeking guidance from an experienced child support lawyer in Austin can help parents navigate the complex process of determining and enforcing child support payments.
Can I Modify My Child Support Order?
If either parent experiences a "substantial change in circumstances" (often a notable increase or decrease in their net monthly income), they can file a modification case with the court. A modification allows you to adjust your current child support order to reflect your present circumstances more accurately.
Can I Enforce My Child Support Order?
When it comes to child support orders in Texas, the answer is unequivocally yes.
Child support orders in Texas are enforceable, and the state has a variety of tools at its disposal to hold parents who fail to comply with these orders accountable. For instance, a parent who fails to pay child support may have their wages garnished or have a lien placed on their property. Additionally, the state may suspend a parent's driver's license or professional license until they are compliant with their child support order.
Regardless of the method used, the bottom line is that Texas takes the issue of child support seriously and will do everything within its power to ensure that parents meet their obligations. Ultimately, this can help ensure that children receive the support they need to thrive and succeed.
If you need help enforcing a child support order in Texas, discuss your rights and legal options with our Austin child support attorneys at Cofer & Connelly, PLLC today.
Discuss Your Options with Cofer & Connelly
At Cofer & Connelly, PLLC, our Austin child support lawyers can help you pursue a fair child support arrangement that supports your child's best interests.
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