Many parents in Texas mistakenly believe that they will not be ordered to pay child support if a court awards 50/50 joint custody. However, you may still be ordered to pay child support even if you and the other parent share joint custody.
It is advisable to consult with a Lampasas family lawyer to fully understand how child support works in Texas. A lawyer will evaluate your particular situation and determine if you can be ordered to pay child support.
Types of Child Custody (Conservatorship) in Texas
What is commonly called “child custody” in most states is known as “conservatorship” in Texas. The State of Texas recognizes several types of conservators:
Joint managing conservator
Sole managing conservator
These conservatorship designations determine the parents’ rights and obligations when sharing custody. In the vast majority of cases, parents are named joint managing conservators, which essentially means that both parents have the same rights and obligations, though one parent may retain the exclusive right to make specific decisions for the child.
But do child custody (conservatorship) arrangements affect child support awards in Texas?
Does Child Custody Affect Child Support in Texas?
The short answer is “No.” Child custody does not affect the determination of child support in Texas. Texas Family Code § 153.138 explicitly states that the designation of joint managing conservatorship does not affect the court’s authority to order either conservator to pay child support to the other conservator.
Thus, Texas courts award child support regardless of its conservatorship designation. In other words, a parent may be ordered to pay child support even if he or she was awarded joint conservatorship rights.
Texas courts use guidelines to calculate child support and determine the appropriate amount of monthly payments. The guidelines are codified at Texas Family Code § 154.125.
Joint Conservators Can Agree on Child Support Out of Court
Texas law allows parents to agree on child support without court involvement. In other words, joint conservators do not need to go to court to have a judge decide on a child support award for the parents.
However, if parents reach an agreement regarding child support, the agreement will still need to be submitted to a court for approval. The ability to agree on child support without going to court allows joint conservators to agree that:
No child support is necessary; or
Agree on a mutually acceptable amount of child support.
If parents are not able to agree out of court, they will need to go to court to have the judge make the decision for them. Texas courts make child support decisions based on the “best interests of the child” standard.
It is advisable to contact a skilled family lawyer to negotiate a mutually acceptable agreement regarding child support without court involvement. Taking your child support case to court may lead to an unpredictable outcome.
How is Child Support Determined in Texas?
If you are getting divorced, it is essential to understand how child support is determined in Texas. Texas law sets guidelines for calculating child support. Basically, child support is determined based on each parent’s net monthly income.
In order to calculate net income, you need to know your gross income first. For the purposes of calculating child support, gross income includes a parent’s:
Even if a parent is unemployed, they may receive income in the form of unemployment benefits, retirement, Social Security benefits, or workers’ compensation. A parent’s rental income is also taken into account when determining child support.
Once a parent’s gross income is known, it is necessary to subtract the following deductions to figure out their net income:
Federal income taxes
Social Security taxes or retirement plan contributions
Union dues, if any
Health insurance premiums
Other medical expenses related to the child
After the deductions, the net income should be divided by 12 to determine the parent’s monthly net income. This figure will be used for child support calculations. However, Texas courts also consider other factors when calculating child support, which is why it is essential to talk to a skilled lawyer to determine the appropriate amount of support payments. The factors are outlined in Texas Family Code § 154.123.
Does the Number of Child Affect Child Support?
Yes, child support in Texas is based on a percentage of the paying parent’s monthly net resources and the number of children the parent is supporting:
The monthly net income is multiplied by 20% if the parent is supporting only one child;
The income is multiplied by 25% if there are two children;
The income is multiplied by 30% if there are three kids;
The income is multiplied by 35% if there are four children;
The income is multiplied by 40% if there are five kids; and
The amount of child support must be at least the same as for five other kids if the parent is supporting six or more children.
In addition to paying child support, the obligor will also pay for the child’s health insurance. While courts generally order the non-custodial parent to pay for the child’s health insurance, the custodial parent may also be ordered to provide health insurance if doing so makes more sense (e.g., the custodial parent has employer-provided health insurance while the non-custodial parent doesn’t).
Consult with an Experienced Family Lawyer Today
If you are getting divorced and your divorce involves minor children, you need to understand who will be ordered to pay child support in your case. In Texas, you may be ordered to support your child financially even if you have joint custody (conservatorship) rights.
Schedule a free case evaluation with our Lampasas family lawyers at The Law Office of Brett H. Pritchard to discuss your situation. Our attorneys will determine whether or not you will be ordered to pay child support despite splitting 50/50 custody with your former spouse.Call (254) 220-4225 to book your free consultation.