How is Child Support Calculated in Texas?
For most parents, caring for and supporting their children is as natural as breathing. In divorce, however, courts often need to calculate the amount that the noncustodial parent must contribute in support of his or her children. While the care and support of children entail far more than the court’s dry mathematical calculations, this process is nevertheless an important legal mechanism that often plays an important role in financially supporting children post-divorce.
The Texas Child Support Calculation Process
In Texas, the custodial parent is the parent with whom the children primarily live, and the other parent is the noncustodial parent. The noncustodial parent typically owes 20 percent of his or her net income to the custodial parent in support of one child. The percentage goes up by 5 percent for each additional child up to 5 children total (any total number of children beyond 5 holds at 40 percent of the noncustodial parent's net income).
It’s important to remember, however, that judges have significant discretion in making child support determinations. For this reason, whether you are a party seeking child support or the party seeking to minimize your child support payment, you should retain an experienced family law attorney to represent you.
Income Included in the Calculation
The noncustodial parent’s income factored into the child support calculation can come from a variety of sources:
All income from salaried wages
All overtime pay
All commissions, tips, and bonuses
All net income from rental units
All income earned through self-employment
All income from interest, annuities, dividends, capital gains, and royalties
Other kinds of income, including severance pay, social security benefits, retirement and pensions, unemployment, disability, workers’ compensation, spousal maintenance and/or alimony, and gifts and prizes
In Texas, the scope of the noncustodial parent’s income included for the purposes of calculating child support is broad.
When the Noncustodial Parent is Unemployed
If a noncustodial parent is unemployed – or purposefully underemployed – the court can correct for these issues. For example, if the court determines that he or she is choosing to work for less than he or she is capable of earning, it can alter the calculation to include a more representative income. If, on the other hand, the noncustodial parent is fully unemployed, the court can calculate for a standard 40-hour work week at the federal minimum wage.
Texas also sets a wage cap, which lawmakers periodically modify for inflation, for those noncustodial parents who are higher earners. Any monthly earnings beyond this wage cap are not factored into the child support calculation.
If You Have Questions about Child Support, Contact a Central Texas Family Law Attorney Today
Divorce is always difficult, and issues related to child support are often the most difficult of all. If you have concerns about child support, you need experienced legal counsel, and the dedicated legal team at The Law Office of Brett H. Pritchard in Central Texas is here for you. To schedule a consultation with a family law attorney in Central Texas, call our office today at (254) 220-4225 or contact us online.