In Texas, the amount of payment required for child support is calculated using guidelines found in the Texas Family Code. The person paying child support is called the obligor and the person receiving child support is called the obligee. In the majority of cases, the obligee is the person who has primary custody of the child, and is responsible for the daily living expenses of raising them.
Using the guidelines, the court will calculate net resources for the purpose of setting the amount of child support. Whenever feasible, gross income should first be computed on an annual basis and then be recalculated to determine average monthly gross income.
- 100 percent of all wage and salary income and other compensation for personal services (including commissions, overtime pay, tips, and bonuses);
- Interest, dividends, and royalty income;
- Self-employment income;
- Net rental income (defined as rent after deducting operating expenses and mortgage payments, but not non-cash items such as depreciation);
- All other income actually being received, including severance pay, retirement benefits, pensions, trust income, annuities, capital gains, social security benefits other than supplemental security income, United States Department of Veterans Affairs disability benefits other than non-service-connected disability pension benefits, as defined by 38 U.S.C. Section 101(17), unemployment benefits, disability and workers’ compensation benefits, interest income from notes regardless of the source, gifts and prizes, spousal maintenance, and alimony.
Resources do not include:
- Return of principal or capital;
- Accounts receivable;
- Benefits paid in accordance with the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families program or another federal public assistance program; or
- Payments for foster care of a child.
The court will deduct the following items from resources to determine the net resources available for child support:
- Social security taxes;
- Federal income tax based on the tax rate for single person claiming one personal exemption and the standard deduction; (the tax chart deducts 1 & 2 above)
- State income taxes;
- Union dues;
- Expenses for the cost of health insurance or cash medical support for the obligor’s child ordered by the court under Section 154.182; and
- If the obligor does not pay social security taxes, non discretionary retirement plan contributions (where the employee is required to contribute as a condition of employment, like school teachers under the Texas Retirement System).
The guidelines for child support are based on the assumption that the court will order the obligor to provide medical support for the child in addition to the amount of child support calculated by guidelines. The amount of the deduction for the child’s health care coverage will be calculated differently if the obligor has other minor dependents covered under the same health insurance plan for whom he or she has a legal duty to support. The court will divide the total cost to the obligor for the minor dependents’ insurance by the total number of minor dependents (including the child for whom support is being calculated) covered under the plan.
The child support guidelines are designed to apply to the obligor’s monthly net resources of $7500 or less. The percentages applied against the obligor’s net resources for the children before the court are the following: 20% for one child; 25% for two children; 30% for three; 35% for four; and 40% for five. These percentages are reduced slightly for each child not before the court for whom the obligor owes a legal duty to support. In certain circumstances the court may vary from the child support guidelines and order above or below guideline support, but that’s a topic for next week’s blog.
For more information on child support in Texas, you can visit the FAQ on the Attorney General’s website. There is also a monthly child support calculator available on the site. You can also read our blog about departures from the Texas child support guidelines to learn about circumstances where the guidelines may not apply.
If you need to seek modification of your Texas child support obligations, or if you need to enforce someone else’s child support responsibilities, contact Helene Parker & Associates, L.L.C. today to schedule a free consultation about your case. We serve clients in Denton, Dallas, Farmers Branch, Carrollton, Lewisville, The Colony, Little Elm, Flower Mound, Frisco, and surrounding areas.