Divorce is undoubtedly a difficult process, and going through it with children makes things all the more complex. In Texas, all children are entitled to child support, and once a court deems you obligated to pay, you are legally bound to do so. While this may seem straightforward, Texas child support payment laws are complicated, and the way they’re calculated can confuse some parents. To clear the air, let’s review Texas child support laws, the average child support payments, and how these payments are calculated.
Who Pays Child Support?
The parent that doesn’t have physical custody, or the non-custodial parent, typically pays child support. Custody splits are complicated; just because a parent has physical custody doesn’t mean they’re exempt from paying support. Generally, whoever spends the least amount of time with the child is considered the non-custodial parent if only one has full legal custody. The parent who pays child support is the “obligor,” a person bound by a legal contract. Even if both parents decide against child support, a judge can still name a parent an obligor.
How Is Child Support Calculated?
Other states in the US take many factors into consideration when deciding how much child support an obligor should pay. These factors can include income, access to resources, the amount of time spent with the child, and who typically pays for certain expenses.
In Texas, however, child support is mostly calculated by the number of children between the couple and the net resources of the obligor. This means there is no true average when it comes to child support payments in Texas—they can vary widely. The court will consider wages, salary, interest, unemployment, social security payments, and retirement when calculating gross income. Below are the Texas guidelines a judge will use to determine the amount of child support in terms of gross monthly income percentage:
- 1 Child = 20%
- 2 Children = 25%
- 3 Children = 30%
- 4 Children = 35%
- 5 or More Children = 40% or More
Child Support Exceptions
These guidelines are minimum requirements and aren’t hard rules. Ultimately, a Texas court will do whatever it can to ensure the best interest of the child; it may increase or reduce support obligations. For example, if the couple has two or three children, but both live comfortably and have equal access to the children, the court may not require the percentage for that number of children. The opposite also applies—if one parent lives much more comfortably than the other, the court may increase the percentage. Courts will also take education, extra-curricular activities, and special needs into account.
Contact Northern Legal today if you need help determining what your child support payments might be. We’ll put you in touch with one of your joint child custody lawyers to guide you through the process and give you the legal counsel you need and deserve.