Texas has a reputation for putting its own unique spin on things, but the state hasn't yet jumped on the bandwagon in transitioning to the child support calculation formula used by 41 other states. Along with eight other jurisdictions and the District of Columbia, it still uses the percentage of income model, which is based entirely on the noncustodial parent’s income -- it doesn't factor in the custodial parent’s earnings. How much you’ll pay depends on how much you earn and how many children you have.
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The 2013 Cap Increase
Texas updates its child support guidelines every six years to accommodate inflation. The last change occurred on September 1, 2013. The state raised parents' net available resources for use in child support calculations from $7,500 to $8,550. If you earn $8,550 a month or more and you’re likely to be paying child support, speak with an attorney because the regular child support percentages don’t apply to you. The Sisemore Law Firm in Fort Worth offers a more in-depth explanation of the 2013 change on its website.
Income Considered for Child Support
The Texas child support guidelines apply to everyone who earns less than $8,550 a month and they’re based on a percentage of the noncustodial parent’s net earnings. Your net resources for child support purposes are your earnings less standard deductions: federal and state income taxes, Social Security and union dues. If you’re paying for your children’s health insurance coverage, you can deduct the portion of premiums that are attributable to them.
The Percentage of Income Formula
Because the Texas child support formula is a percentage of your net income based on how many children you have, you’ll pay the least amount of support if you have minimal income, only one child and children from another relationship. The Nacol Law Firm in Richardson, Texas publishes a chart for easy, visual assessment of how much you’ll owe. If you have only one child, 20 percent of your net resources go to her care. If you’re supporting three kids, it jumps to 30 percent, and it increases to 40 percent for five or more children.
Texas courts can and sometimes do deviate from the basic percentage chart. If your child spends a great deal of time in her other parent's home and he's supporting her directly while she’s in his care, this may lower his support obligation. Judges sometimes add on child care expenses if they’re incurred so the custodial parent can work. If you’re also paying or receiving alimony, this might have an effect, and it can also affect your child support order if your child has special needs. Consult with a lawyer or legal aid if you think special circumstances might result in a deviation from the figures in the chart.
Other Children Who Need Support
The percentages drop if you’re supporting children from another relationship, too. You might already have a child support order for another family or maybe you had another child with someone else after you and your ex broke up. If you have just one additional child, support drops from 20 percent to 17.5 percent for the child whose support is being calculated. If you have three other children, it drops to 14.75 percent for the single child covered by this support order. With so many factors considered, calculating child support in any state is a challenge, even in Texas where the simplest model is still used. It often helps to have a professional assess your personal situation so you know exactly where you stand.