In almost all family law cases involving children, child support is an issue. Having a good understanding of what child support is and how Texas courts calculate, decide, and enforce child support can make a difference in these disputes. This article is written to help you get a sense of what child support is and important factors to know when it comes to child support.
When a court orders child support, they’re ordering that a parent pays a certain amount to the other parent for the support of a child or children. In Texas, the amount that a parent pays in child support is determined by the Texas Child Support Guidelines, found in Texas Family Code 154.125. Under the guidelines, a court will usually order that a parent pay 20% of his or her monthly net resources in child support. “Monthly net resources” is the income of that parent minus certain taxes and expenses for the child or children’s health insurance or cash medical expenses. The court increases the child support amount by 5% for every child the parent has, up to 40% of the monthly net resources.
Courts in Texas don’t take into account a parent’s bills or other living expenses when calculating child support. Instead, courts try to abide by these guidelines in most instances. That means that regardless of how high a parent’s rent is, or mortgage, or car payments, the court will not likely factor that into the child support amount. The reason why is that Texas law presumes that guideline child support is reasonable and in the best interest of the child or children. To get the court to deviate from guideline child support, a parent would have to show that applying the guidelines would be “unjust or inappropriate” under the circumstances. These factors, contained in Texas Family Code 154.123, include:
- the age and need of the child
- childcare expenses for a parent to get employment
- special needs of the child
and other factors. These are good facts to keep in mind if and when you’re dealing with child support that you can’t afford.