The team at Wong Fleming knows that a wide range of factors go into child support calculations and decisions. We’re here to look at the unique circumstances facing your family and advocate for you. Call us at 281-340-2074 to set up a consultation with one of our Sugar Land child support lawyers.
How Child Support is Calculated in Texas
While some states require a complicated calculation of custody days, both parents’ earnings, and the percentage share of their income, Texas is fairly straightforward. In most cases, non-custodial parents simply a pay a percentage of their net monthly resources to the custodial parent. They pay 20% of their monthly net income for one child, 25% for two children, 30% for three children, and so on. It caps at 40%, but there are circumstances under which the court will order more. Click here for the Texas child support calculator.
What is considered income? Salary, hourly wages, overtime pay, bonuses, commissions, and tips are all considered income. So is income earned from a business or royalties. You may also pay child support based on capital gains, annuities, and rental income. However, a new spouse’s assets and income do not count towards child support, nor do federal benefits or foster care payments. Net income is your gross income minus your taxes, union dues, and health insurance for the child in question.
If the paying parent is considered a high earner, the court will limit the amount they are expected to pay. This will be either a percentage of income or their child’s actual financial needs.
When the Court Deviates From Standard Calculations
In some cases, this calculation is simply a starting point. Once you have this number, you can adjust as needed based on what you and your coparent agree on. Some factors that may cause a deviation in child support include:
• A parenting schedule that isn’t a standard every-other-weekend schedule
• Educational costs
• Extracurricular activities
• Special medical or developmental needs of a child
• Spousal support and the division of property during a divorce
The court has quite a bit of wiggle room in this area. If they find the base number to be satisfactory, they may use it and then simply make small adjustments to account for unique circumstances. If they think the number is completely inappropriate for the circumstances, they can order a different amount entirely.
When Should Child Support Be Modified?
There are several situations that may call for a modification in child support. Please note, though, that your initial child support order is legally binding. You cannot simply stop paying less or demanding more because circumstances have changed. You must go through the legal process to get a new support order.
Child support modifications may be necessary if the paying parent’s income has changed substantially, if they have a huge increase in expenses, or if the parenting schedule has changed dramatically. One caveat: a payer who chooses to decrease their income cannot then expect child support to be decreased. Parents have been caught taking lower-paying jobs to avoid paying the custodial parent full child support. The court sees through this and still requires the paying parent to follow the court order.
What If I Haven’t Been Able to See My Child?
Paying parents are often frustrated with child support orders if they have been kept away from their child. They ask why they have to pay child support for a child they aren’t even allowed to see.
However, you cannot withhold child support because you have not been able to see your child. To protect the child’s best interests, the court views parenting time and child support as different issues. If you have been kept from your child, you must go through the proper legal channels to reclaim your parenting time. The reverse is also true—a custodial parent cannot withhold visitation because the paying parent has fallen behind on child support.
Find Out How Wong Fleming Can Help You
Calculating and understanding child support can be overwhelming, especially if your children have expensive hobbies, medical needs, or private school expenses. Make sure you have someone advocating for you every step of the way. Call Wong Fleming at 281-340-2074 to set up a time to talk to one of our skilled child support lawyers.