Texas law allows courts to order child support in any case where the parents live separately, whether they share physical child custody or not. Although you must pay child support, you might not have to pay as much as you think. Child support in Texas is usually based on the payor’s net income, meaning it should never be too high for the payor to afford. For 2018, there are various changes that may help you save money on child support, and it is important for all payors to understand where they could save money this year. For help with your child support case or having your payments reduced by 2018’s new child support rules, contact a Dallas child support lawyer. The attorneys at The Queenan Law Firm offer free consultations on child support cases.
Calculating Child Support Payments in Texas
Under Texas Family Code § 154.001, child support payments are calculated by taking a certain percentage of the payor’s “net resources.” Net resources are essentially all wages, income, and payments you receive. This includes not only your wages from work but also income from rental properties, retirement benefits, annuities, disability benefits, pension benefits, unemployment benefits, and other payments.
You may exclude and deduct certain payments from your net resources. This helps shrink the base amount your child support is calculated from, ultimately lowering your child support payments. Under Texas law, you can deduct any of these from your net resources:
- Social Security taxes (part of your FICA taxes),
- Federal income tax (if you only claim yourself as a dependent and take the standard deduction),
- Texas income tax,
- Dues to a union,
- Health insurance and other medical payments made for your children under part of a support order, and
- Other retirement plan contributions (if you don’t pay Social Security taxes).
If your health insurance covers yourself and multiple children, you can only deduct the portions that go you your children.
After calculating your net resources, it becomes simple enough to calculate how much you can expect to pay in support. As long as your monthly net resources are $7,500 or less, the calculation takes a simple percentage of your income based on the number of children you support. This amount grows by 5% for each additional child rather than doubling or tripling. Thus, the general support payments are:
- 20% of your net resources for 1 child,
- 25% of your net resources for 2 children,
- 30% of your net resources for 3 children,
- 35% of your net resources for 4 children,
- 40% of your net resources for 5 children, and
- At least 40% for 6 or more children.
If your monthly net resources are higher than $7,500, the calculation will be different and take into account more factors.
This child support amount is merely the presumptive amount, meaning it can fluctuate up or down based on the children’s actual needs and the specifics of the situation. However, the child support amount should never exceed what you can reasonably afford.
New Texas Child Support Rules in 2018
Many of the sections of Texas’ child support rules are set to expire on September 1, 2018. The Texas Legislature has already created and passed new rules that will take their place. Many of the rules are slight modifications, but they may impact your case.
Courts often order payors to cover their children’s medical expenses, either through health insurance or cash payments. When payors do this, they are allowed to deduct those expenses from their net resources. Getting a deduction from your net resources accounts for the fact that you already pay the insurance costs and gives you a deduction from your child support to compensate. After September 1, courts will also be able to order you to cover dental insurance for your children. This comes with a corresponding deduction from your net resources for those dental payments as well as medical payments. Getting this deduction allows you to get credit for the dental payments you may already make, lowering your support costs.
Currently, Texas law allows parents to make agreements about child support. This includes the ability to change a child support order by agreeing to different terms that the parties set for themselves. The court can step in and modify the order the parents agreed to under certain circumstances, but the new 2018 laws limit those circumstances. After September, the court can only step in to modify the agreement if there are material and substantial changes in circumstance since the agreement. That allows the parents’ decisions to stand, and the court cannot change their agreement unless the situation has changed.
Dallas Child Support Lawyers Offering Free Consultations
Whenever there are changes to child support law, you may be entitled to modify your child support order. Talk to a Dallas family law attorney like those at The Queenan Law Firm today for help with your child support case and adapting to the new 2018 Texas child support rules. To schedule your free consultation today, contact our law offices at (817) 476-1797.