How is child support calculated?
Texas uses a formula which produces a number known as “net resources”. This is determined by taking the gross income and deducting for federal taxes, social security, medicare, health insurance costs for the child(ren), union dues, and state income tax if applicable. A percentage is then applied to the net resource number. For one child it is 20%; two children is 25%, three children is 30% , four children is 35%, and five children is 40%. Allowances are made if the parent paying is paying for children from other relationships. Other factors may apply to alter the payment amount. A more detailed explanation is provided in the child support section of this website.
Is there a maximum amount of child support?
Texas has a concept known as “the cap”. The family code states that child support is maxed out when a parent’s net resources reaches $7500.00 per month which equates to $1500.00 monthly for one child. However, if a parent can show additional factors, the Court can vary from the guidelines and order more than guidelines.
Can a parent be ordered to pay for college?
The short answer is no. Texas courts lose jurisdiction of a child support case, except for enforcement, when a child turns eighteen or graduates from high school whichever is later. A parent can agree by contract to pay college expenses.
Does it matter if my ex is paying for children from the first marriage?
Yes. An allowance will be made for prior children for which a parent has an obligation. The general rule is a reduction of 1.5% for each child. For example, if you have one child and your ex is paying child support for one child; instead of receiving 20% of net resources, you will receive 17.5%.
Can I receive my child support payments directly from the other parent?
No. Child support must be paid through a state registry. Cash payments directly given to the other parent will probably not be counted and you will have to pay again.
What is wage withholding?
Child Support will be withheld by an employer from a parent’s paycheck and the employer will send the money directly to the state registry who will send it to the receiving parent. It works the same as taxes and social security.
Do I have to pay child support if I have 50/50 possession?
Maybe. Merely having 50/50 possession will not release a parent from an obligation to pay child support. The Court will still consider the amount of income available to each parent and how the child’s expenses will be allocated.
Who pays health insurance?
The parent obligated to pay child support will generally be ordered to carry health insurance. If that parent does not have it available through their employer and the other parent does; the parent ordered to pay child support will be required to reimburse the other parent the cost of the health insurance for the child(ren).
Can I get more child support if my ex does not visit?
Maybe. A court can order child support in an amount different that the standard state guidelines. Factors to be considered include time of possession. Other factors are special needs of the child, travel expenses, cost of day care which allows a parent to maintain employment, and financial resources of each parent.
My husband is self-employed and gets paid cash, how is child support determined?
The Court will look to factors such as living expenses, gross business income less business expenses and the type of business. It varies case by case. As an example - a parent works as a free lance plumber. His tax return shows net business income of $11,000 for the year. However, when looking at his living expenses he is paying for a house, a truck, a bass boat, wife’s car, household expenses, and three credit cards. His monthly expenses total $4500.00. Clearly, he is earning more than $11,000. The Court can “impute income” to him in the amount of $4500.00 per month and calculate child support on that amount.
What if he quits paying?
There are various methods available to collect child support. The non-paying parent is responsible for every missed payment and 6% annual interest on each missed payment. You can file an enforcement motion with the court and the court can send him to jail; grant a monetary judgment, or put him on probation. You can also file a child support lien which can be used to seize property including bank accounts. The Attorney General can report the arrears to the credit bureau and intercept tax refunds.
Can I agree to waive the child support if he agrees not to visit?
Only a Judge can waive child support. If a parent says I will waive child support if you don’t visit; you may get served with a child support collection petition fifteen years later after you have forfeited your relationship with your child by not visiting and you will still have to pay the back child support plus 6% interest which accrued over the years. This could be thousands of dollars.
If my ex doesn’t pay the child support, can I refuse visitation?
CHILD SUPPORT AND VISITATION ARE NOT RELATED
I just found out I am not the biological father of a child for which I pay child support, can I do anything?
Until recently you could not challenge the child support order if the child was more than four years of age. However, a recent change in the law allows a man to challenge a child support order and terminate a child support obligation at any time with one limitation. The man has one year from the time he finds out he is not the child’s father, to challenge the order. If an order already exists, he has one year starting September 1, 2011, to challenge the order.
By Reuters as published in Texas Monthly Magazine 2005, 2006, 2007, 2010, 2011