Child Support

Almost all cases involving children include an order for at least one parent to pay child support. In most cases the Court orders the parent to pay guideline child support. However, there are valid reasons to deviate from guideline support. In this article we will explore the ins and outs of a child support in Texas Courts and why calculating the correct support amount is not as easy as it looks.

When is Child Support Appropriate?

The Texas Family Code presumes that it is in the best interest of the child for the noncustodial parent to pay child support. The presumption is rebuttable, which means it can be overcome if the circumstances allow. Circumstances that may qualify include a 50/50 possession schedule or an agreement between the parties. However, Courts order full guideline child support in the overwhelming majority of cases.

What is Guideline Child Support in Texas, and How is it Calculated?

In most divorce cases, the noncustodial parent is ordered to pay what is referred to as guideline child support. Guideline child support is outlined in Section 154 of the Texas Family Code. The parent’s net resources are determined based on formula provided in Section 154. Those net resources are then multiplied by a predetermined percentage to find the amount of child support owed. The percentage is based on the number of children the couple has together.

The parent owes 20% of net income for the first child. Another 5% is added for each additional child, up to a maximum of 40%. Note that a parent only pays child support on the first $11,400 of gross income each month. However, sometimes good cause exists to deviate from guideline support. For example, a child’s special needs that require expensive medical care may cause the Court to order additional child support above the guidelines.

Calculating gross income is often more than just reviewing current pay stubs. Proper child support calculation includes many factors that may not be obvious. So, having a skilled family lawyer on your side can have a huge impact on the actual amount of support ordered.

How Does Being Self-Employed Affect my Child Support in Texas?

The Texas Family Code accounts for differences between self-employed and employed parents. The formula for calculating net resource for self-employed parents is adjusted to factor in self-employment tax rates. The net resources are then multiplied by a predetermined percentage to find the amount of child support owed. The percentage is based on the number of children the couple has together. The parent will owe 20% of net income for the first child. Another 5% is added for each additional child, up to a maximum of 40%.

Like employed parents, there is a cap on how much gross income is subject to child support under the guidelines. A self-employed parent only pays child support on the first $12,223 of gross income each month. This assumes that there are not valid reasons to deviate from guideline support.

Calculating self-employed income can be tricky. To get the correct amount of income for child support calculation may involve several factors like how long the business has existed, how the business is organized, how the parent is paid from the business, and even the revenues of the business. An experienced family lawyer will consider all the possible factors in the business to get the right amount of child support.

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