While divorce unravels the legal union between two parents, it does not alter the connection between parents and their children. Both parents generally retain the rights and responsibilities of continuing to raise their children post-divorce, including the responsibility of providing financial support for those children. The parent who whom the children primarily reside is recognized as already providing necessary financial support, and the other parent is generally required to pay child support in fulfillment of his or her financial obligations toward the care of the children.
The Financial Calculation
The State of Texas determines child support with a calculation tool that begins by assessing the payer’s gross pay. This amount is based on all the parent’s earnings, including:
- All job earnings, including earnings from side jobs, overtime, commissions, tips, and bonuses
- All earnings from royalties, dividends, and interest
- Any self-employment earnings
- Any profits from rental properties
In Texas, all of the payer’s earnings are factored into the child support calculation. From this gross, basic deductions are subtracted to calculate the payer’s net earnings. These deductions include:
- Federal and state income taxes
- Social Security taxes
- Union dues
- The children’s health insurance expense
From the payer’s net income, child support calculations are applied.
If your ex loses his or her job, it does not mean that his or her child support obligations come to an end. If the payer has no verifiable income, the court will generally calculate his or her obligation in accordance with having a full-time job that pays minimum wage.
If, however, the payer is purposefully underemployed or stops working in order to reduce what he or she owes in child support, the court can base child support on earning potential rather than on actual earnings.
Child Support Agreements
If you and your ex come to an agreement regarding modifying child support after the fact, it is important to keep in mind that such an agreement is not legally binding. If your ex – for whatever reason – decides to renege on the agreement, you will have no legal recourse. Unless the judge signs off on a modification of your child support terms, there is no way to hold the other parent accountable. If a modification is in order, it is in your best interests to take the matter up with the court. If you and your children’s other parent are in agreement regarding the terms, the court is almost certain to accept them.