Texas’ child support rules make it simple to calculate basic child support for one household. With more children who live in different households, the system suddenly becomes difficult and confusing. If you are involved in a child custody dispute or you need an attorney to modify your child support, talk to the Texas family law attorneys at The Queenan Law Firm. Whether you pay or receive child support, talking to an attorney may be able to help you change your payments.
Calculating Child Support in Texas
The very first step in understanding how much you need to pay in child support is understanding whether you need to pay child support or not. Child support can be requested by the parent who has physical custody of the child and is paid by the other parent. Child support only lasts until the child turns 18 – or, if the child turns 18 in their last year of high school, then child support will last through the last day of the month in which they graduate. There are some situations where child support can last well beyond their 18th birthday, such as when the child has a disability.
Child support in Texas is based on how much money you make, overall. Whether you pay for one child or four children, you need to know your “net resources.” Family Code § 154.061 and the following sections tell you how to calculate your net resources, and what is included and excluded. First, you should always calculate your monthly resources from your yearly income, whenever possible. That means total your yearly income and divide by 12, rather than using what you make in a month’s worth of paychecks.
Net resources include any income you make, from practically any source. This means your paychecks, salary, tips, bonuses, income from rental properties, interest, dividends, retirement benefits, pension, unemployment – really, anything not listed in the exceptions.
The exceptions that do not count into your net resources are:
- Return on principal or capital from investments;
- Accounts receivable;
- Temporary Assistance for Needy Families payments, or other federal welfare payments;
- Payments for caring for a foster child;
- Federal income tax withholdings; and
- Social Security FICA taxes.
These resources are calculated on a monthly basis to decide child support payments, since child support is paid on a monthly basis.
If your monthly resources total more than $8,550, then stop at $8,550. This is the “cap” at which child support stops counting. Child support will typically never require you to calculate using net resources beyond $8,550 per month.
Child Support for Multiple Children
When you have multiple children you need to support, the courts and the rules on child support take this into account. There are three ways you might need to “support multiple children,” and these may affect how much you pay:
Supporting multiple children who live in one household
If you have multiple children who all live together in the same household – but not the same household as you – then you calculate the total child support payment based on the number of children. This would be the typical situation for a divorced couple where their shared children live with one parent, and the parents have no other children.
Child support payments are calculated as a percentage of your monthly net resources. Use the following percentages for the corresponding number of children:
- 20% for one child
- 25% for two children
- 30% for three children
- 35% for four children
- 40% or more for five or more children
For instance, if you make $3,000 per month in net resources, and support two children, you would pay $750 in child support. This calculation is really only helpful for up to five children. If you have more than five children, the court may use a portion higher than 40%.
Otherwise, these percentages give you a good idea of how a court will calculate your payments. Note that the there is no set amount, per child, that stacks with the other children. Instead, there is a base cost (of 20% for one child), and each additional child is another 5%. This helps make child support more affordable.
Supporting multiple children in multiple other households
If you have children in different households, but none that live with you, things can be more complicated. Instead of calculating 20% for one child in each household, and 5% for each additional child, Texas lawmakers reduce how much each family should get. The method for this calculation is complicated, and involves calculating the support amount for all children as though they lived together, crediting the portion that goes to the other household against your net resources, then recalculating the support payments for this household against the adjusted net income.
Alternatively, the courts are allowed to use the percentages from the table provided in § 154.129 of the Family Code. That table is reproduced below:
For example, imagine you make $3,000 in monthly net resources and have four children, two in one household, and two in another. If you want to know the support payments for the second house, look across the top row to find two children for this household, then down to two children in the other household. You will land on a value of 20.63%. This means you pay 20.63% of your $3,000 resources to the second household, or $618.90 per month.
This works for any number of children (up to 14 total children), and should be able to cover most families’ needs.
Supporting children in your household, and other households
If you need to pay child support to other children outside your household, but also care for children within your household, it is treated the same as when you pay support to children in multiple households. That means you can use the chart above to calculate what percentage of your net resources will be paid in child support.
To use this chart with children who live in your household, count those children in the total number of “other children you support” (at the left side of the table). For example, imagine you have $3,000 in net resources, two children who live with you, and want to know the support for your two other children in another household. You would go across the table to two children (i.e. the two you will pay support for), then down to two other children (i.e. the two who live with you). This gives you 20.63% – the same value as our above example. Even if you have children who live in a third household, you still add them to the total of “other children you support,” and find the percentage in the same manner.
This, too, should work for almost any family, since it covers up to 14 children.
Texas Child Support Attorney
Calculating child support this way only gives you the “presumptive child support.” If there are special reasons that you should be paying less support or that the custodial parent might need more support, talk to an attorney. These payment amounts can be adjusted on a case by case basis, but need to be put before a court for the final decision. Alternatively, the parents are always entitled to create their own agreement on child support, if they can come to an agreement. Hiring an attorney may be able to help with this as well.
If you need child support modified, or you are just starting to pay or receive child support, you may want an attorney to help you. There are plenty of ways to increase or decrease the amount of payment, and many big life changes can lead to a modification (such as a new job). Talk to the experienced family lawyers at The Queenan Law Firm today. For a free consultation regarding your child support payments, call (817) 476-1797.