Updated on August 23, 2022
Both parents in the State of Texas—and every other state—are responsible for supporting their children financially. When parents divorce, this responsibility is addressed by child support payments.
Child support payments are calculated according to state guidelines that many find confusing—especially when it comes to issues such as how overtime pay and work bonuses factor in. If you have concerns about your child support payments, an experienced Harker Heights family law attorney can help.
Matters related to child support payments are addressed in the Texas Family Code. Whenever it is reasonable to do so, the court calculates each parent’s gross income by first calculating the individual’s annual income and then dividing by 12 to obtain an average monthly gross income. The income used in the state’s calculation process includes all of the following:
All of the individual’s wages, salary income, and any other compensation for personal services, including commissions, overtime pay, bonuses, and tips
Any income the individual earns in interest, dividends, and royalty income
Income from self-employment
Net rental income (the income derived from renting out a property after deducting the mortgage payments and operating costs)
Any other income the individual receives, including severance pay, pensions, trust income, retirement benefits, annuities, social security benefits, capital gains, and more
Other kinds of income, including pensions, unemployment, disability, workers’ compensation, spousal maintenance or alimony, and gifts and prizes
In other words, if you or your ex earns overtime and bonuses, it is part of your gross earnings, which means they will ultimately be factored into the child support you either pay or receive.
Child support is calculated from net income, which refers to the gross income defined above minus approved deductions that include the following expenses:
Federal income taxes (as calculated for a single person with one exemption and the standard deduction)
State income tax
Social Security and Medicare taxes
Once all allowed deductions are subtracted, child support is calculated in accordance with the final amount of income (the net income).
Texas’ Approach to Child Support
In Texas, the custodial parent is the parent with whom the children primarily live. The other parent is the noncustodial parent. (Read this article to learn more about child custody terms.) The noncustodial parent typically owes 20% of his or her net income to the custodial parent in support of one child. The percentage goes up by 5% for each additional child up to 5 children total.
This approach is based on the best interests of the children involved. As such, the state does not alter child support payments in accordance with how much time the noncustodial parent spends with the children. Ultimately, Texas plugs numbers into its calculation process—without factoring in some of the variables that many other states consider.
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 Harker Heights family law attorney to represent you.
When the Noncustodial Parent Is Unemployed
If a noncustodial parent is unemployed—or purposefully underemployed—the court can make adjustments 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.
Read about a real-life example in the article “Intentional Unemployment or Underemployment and Child Support.”
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. Read more about this decision in “Child Support and the Court’s Discretion.”
Discuss Your Concerns with an Experienced Harker Heights 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 Harker Heights, Texas, is here for you.