Child support is a complicated system, and every year Texas’ guidelines for calculating child support change as new rules are written. 2017 also brings a few new, potential issues for people who are behind on child support.
If you are receiving or paying child support, and you need an attorney, talk to the experienced family law attorneys at The Queenan Law Firm. Our lawyers can help you get child support, get your payments changed, and fight your case in court. Whether you are paying or receiving support, our family lawyers can help.
Texas Child Support Rules
Child support in Texas is governed by Family Code § 154. In general, child support is paid by one parent to the other to help care for their shared children. This payment is completely separate from alimony, also known as “spousal support,” which is paid to support a former spouse. Child support can be confusing for many people who are not accustomed to dealing with it, so we’ve summarized some of the important concepts.
Child support can be ordered by a court for any child until they turn 18 or are emancipated (either by getting married themselves before turning 18 or by a court order). If the child is disabled, under the legal definition, they can continue to receive child support even after they turn 18. If the child is already 18, but still in high school, child support may be extended through the month they graduate. These rules apply equally whether the parents are married, divorced, or have never been married.
Code § 154.061 and the following sections in Subchapter B deal with how to compute child support payments. The most important factor in determining how much should be paid in child support is the family’s “net resources.” This looks at all income, interest, royalties, dividends, and rental income – any money that you make. These total net resources are reduced through some deductions, including money toward taxes, union dues, and health insurance.
The standard child support payment is a straight percentage of your monthly net resources, as follows:
- For one child: 20%
- For two children: 25%
- For three children: 30%
- For four children: 35%
- For five children: 40%
- For six or more children: 40% or more
This percentage applies for net resources up to the 2017 child support cap of $8,550. That means that if you make more than $8,550, the maximum child support a court can order should be:
- For one child: $1,710
- For two children: $2,137.50
- For three children: $2,565
- For four children: $2,992.50
- For five children: $3,420
- For six or more children: $3,420 or more
If you make under $8,550 per month in net resources, you calculate child support payments by taking the percentage of your monthly income that corresponds to how many children you support. For instance, supporting two children with monthly net resources of $2,000 would mean monthly child support payments should be about $500.
The last time this cap was increased was 2013, and the $8,550 cap is not set to expire until 2019, so this cap should be in effect throughout 2017.
2017 Child Support Nonpayment Penalties
One of the biggest changes to child support rules in 2017 covers punishments for nonpayment. Failing to pay child support is a serious problem, so Texas’ laws work to punish people who fail to pay. If you are frustrated with child support, or find payments too expensive, it is very important that you do not resort to self-help. Instead, talk to an attorney about your payments. Changes in salary may require a change in child support orders, which you can only get with a judge’s approval. Even if payments have gotten expensive, do not stop paying – seek help from an attorney.
Alternatively, if you are not receiving child support payments as ordered, talk to a lawyer. There are numerous punishments available under the law, and many ways the courts can receive the payments, even if the payor refuses to pay. Wages can be garnished, meaning the court can extract child support payments directly from the payor’s paycheck, like how taxes are deducted. On top of that, because failing to pay child support violates a court order, there might be fines, penalties, and even jail time available to enforce payment.
In 2017, Texas lawmakers added a new punishment for nonpayment: if a payor is 180 days behind on child support payments, Texas may refuse to renew their car registration. That means that if you need your car, especially for work, you may not be able to legally drive it if you get too far behind on payments.
Texas Child Support Attorney Offering Free Consultations
If you are having problems paying child support or receiving child support, talk to a family law firm with decades of experience handling child support cases. The lawyers at The Queenan Law Firm can help you reduce child support payments if you are the payor, or increase payments if you are the recipient. Call (817) 476-1797 today for a free consultation.