Houston Child Support Attorney
Child support is a touchy subject for many people and is often an arguing point between parents during a divorce. However, aside from being incident to divorce when there are children involved, child support is ordered to ensure that the parent who has custody of the child is able to continue to provide for them.
At the Queenan Law firm, our attorneys recognize and understand that parents have legitimate concerns when it comes to the care and well-being of their child or children. That is why our attorneys are committed to working closely with you and maintaining an open channel of communication during a child support dispute or hearing. To set up a confidential legal consultation about your family law matter, call the Queenan Law Firm at (817) 476-1797.
How to Determine the Amount of Child Support a Parent Will Pay
When a marriage or relationship ends it is not always clear exactly how much a parent will be responsible for paying in child support payments. The most common way for child support payments to be calculated is to go before a judge and have a child support order made. However, parents who are on good terms with each other or are able to work with each other are generally allowed to enter into their own written agreements setting forth the amount of child support. While the court system and alternative administrative process called the Child Support Review Process will calculate child support based on child support guidelines, a written agreement does not have to strictly follow the guidelines. Once the parents have reached a written agreement they will take the agreement to the court. If the court finds that the agreement is in the child’s best interest, then the court will sign a child support order based on the agreement. However, if the court does not find the agreement to be in the best interest of the child, they may ask the parents to go back and create a revised agreement plan.
As noted, when the court is determining how much a parent will be expected to contribute to the care and maintenance of the child, they will apply the child support guidelines which are set forth in the Texas Family Law code. These guidelines set a basic minimum amount of child support that one parent will be expected to pay. The court looks at the Net Monthly Income of a parent, and then will apply one of two standards.
Under the first standard – this standard will apply if the obligor’s, meaning the paying parent, income is less than $7,500.00. If the obligor’s net monthly income is more than $7,500.00, then a judge will apply the following percentage guidelines to determine the parent’s obligation based on their income up to $7,500.00. For one child= 20% of Net Monthly Income (discussed further below); two children = 25% of Net Monthly Income; three children = 30% of Net Monthly Income; four children = 35% of Net Monthly Income; five children = 40% of Net Monthly Income; and six children = no less than 40% of Net Monthly Income. After the judge has determined the amount of child support based on these percentages, they are free to examine if the child has “needs” warranting that more child support is needed, then the court can order that the obligee pay more child support. These “needs” can include tuition, extra medical costs, tutoring, and extra-curricular activities, among many other things. However, even if the parent has a substantially large income, the court is limited in the amount of child support it can award.
Under the second standard – this standard will apply if the obligor’s net monthly income is greater than $7,500.00. In this case, the court will examine the number of children in a given household. Texas law provides the following Guideline calculations: one child= 20% of Net Monthly Income (discussed further below); two children = 25% of Net Monthly Income; three children = 30% of Net Monthly Income; four children = 35% of Net Monthly Income; five children = 40% of Net Monthly Income; and six children = no less than 40% of Net Monthly Income.
The court is free to deviate from the guidelines to an extent, based on numerous factors, however, there is a limit as to how much child support can be granted in excess of the percentages set forth above in both standards.
What Are Net Resources for Child Support?
Child support payments will be based on a parent’s gross income from all sources. To determine what a parent’s gross income is the court will look at all of the following as sources of income:
- Dividend income,
- Self-employment income,
- Net rental income,
- Severance pay,
- Retirement benefits,
- Trust income,
- Capital gains,
- Social security benefits,
- Unemployment benefits,
- Interest income,
- Spousal maintenance,
After considering all of these sources as means of income the court will have reached a number known as your gross income. However, the analysis does not stop there. A parent is allowed to deduct the following items from their gross income:
- 100% of your Social Security withholding
- 100% of your federal income tax withholding, as if you were a single person claiming one exemption and the standard deduction, and
- The medical insurance premium cost for your child or children
After considering all of the income sources and deductions, the court is left with a dollar amount known as the net resource or net income.
Contact Our Family Law Lawyers in Houston
To set up a legal consultation about your family law matter, call the Queenan Law Firm at (817) 476-1797. With more than 20 years of legal experience representing mothers and fathers throughout the Arlington area, our attorneys are always eager to put our knowledge and skill to work for you.