In any divorce with children, or other suit affecting the parent-child relationship, the court will most likely order a parent to pay child support. The amount of child support to be paid after parents separate is often an emotionally charged issue. If you would like a better understanding of how much child support you might be required to pay, or you might expect to receive, we can help.

In Texas, parents are ordered to provide support until a child turns eighteen or graduates from high school, whichever is later. However, either or both parents can be ordered to pay support for a disabled child, even after she or he becomes an adult, if the “adult child” requires substantial care and personal supervision because of the disability.

Only parents may be required to pay child support in Texas. Grandparents, stepparents, or other relatives may not be required to pay child support, even if they have intervened in the case and have been given custody or visitation rights.

STATUTORY CHILD SUPPORT GUIDELINES

In deciding how much parents should pay in child support, Texas courts follow statutory child support guidelines, based on a percentage of net resources earned by the paying parent (the “obligor”). The court considers all income being received, including wage and salary income, commissions, bonuses, overtime pay, and other kinds of income, such as royalty payments, trust income, retirement benefits, and unemployment benefits. The court does not include certain disability benefits and does not include income earned by the obligor’s new spouse in deciding how much child support should be paid.

The percentage of net resources that a parent is ordered to pay depends on the number of children in the family:

  • 1 child — 20% of Obligor’s net resources
  • 2 children — 25% of Obligor’s net resources
  • 3 children — 30% of Obligor’s net resources
  • 4 children — 35% of Obligor’s net resources
  • 5+ children — 40% of Obligor’s net resources

The percentage amounts shown above apply to the first $9,200 of an obligor’s monthly net resources. A different calculation applies if the paying parent has children in more than one household.

DEVIATING FROM THE CHILD SUPPORT GUIDELINES

The child support guidelines create only a presumption about the appropriate amount of support; they do not mandate a particular amount. There are additional factors that a court might consider in deciding what amount of child support is best for the child. For example, if it seems that the paying parent is intentionally unemployed, the court can base the child support amount on the parent’s earning potential. Other factors that are frequently considered include the amount of time each parent spends with the child and the cost of travel to exercise visitation. If the parents reach an agreement on the amount of child support to be paid, the court will generally accept that agreement, unless the court believes that the amount is not in the child’s best interests.

The family law attorneys at Key Law Office have an extensive background handling child support cases and a unique understanding of child support law and processes. We can help you focus on the financial needs of your child, and we will advocate for the appropriate results.