Keep Austin Supported: A Guide to Child Support

When parents get divorced, they have to find a way to make sure their kids' financial needs are met. This usually means both parents need to contribute regularly – also known as child support.

Child support is there to help with the basics, like food, housing, and clothes. The lowest level is known as statutory minimum or guideline child support. Often, there's “above guideline support” that's either agreed upon or ordered, depending on the children's needs and what each parent can afford.

Child support makes sure both parents have a legal responsibility to keep their kids happy and healthy. You can get a better result if both parents are doing their part for the whole family's best interests.

In Texas, child support is usually paid by the parent who doesn't have custody (the non-custodial or possessory parent) to the one who does (the custodial or primary parent). The custodial parent is the one the children mainly live with.

There's a very common misunderstanding that if you have a 50/50 arrangement, nobody has to pay child support. That’s not necessarily true! Courts often look at an “offset” in these cases, where the parent who earns less gets support from the one who earns more, based on income differences and resources. This might mean full guideline support, above guideline support, or somewhere in between. If the resources are close to equal, then there may be no child support, but there’s no guarantee. Sometimes, one parent may get credit for things they pay for directly, like private school tuition, team sports, tutors, medical providers, and so on.

Texas child support's goal is to make sure both parents contribute to cover the basic (or more) financial needs of their kid, even if they're not together or living under the same roof.

How To Calculate Child Support In Texas

To calculate child support, Texas uses the “Percentage of Income” method. This means that the amount of child support paid is a percentage of the parent's net income. Generally, net means net of federal income taxes or union dues and taking out health and dental insurance premiums paid on behalf of the child. The percentage used depends on the number of children being supported, as follows:

  • 2 children: 25% of net income
  • 4 children: 35% of net income
  • 5 children: 40% of net income
  • 6 or more children: Not less than the amount for 5 children

There are additional discounts applied if the obligor (the person paying support) is legally liable for support of additional children (usually by a different parent).

In terms of income, it’s currently capped at the first $9,200 of net income per month for the statutory minimum calculation. In addition to the percentage paid based on income, an obligor is also responsible for 100% of the health and dental premiums for the child.

It's important to note that this calculation is just a starting point, and there may be other factors that could change the final child support amount. For example, if one parent has primary custody of the child, they may be entitled to receive additional support to cover additional expenses for the child's basic needs, such as housing, food, and clothing–or other needs, depending on specific circumstances and available resources.

The duration of child support payments can vary depending on the specific circumstances. Generally speaking, however, a court order for child support will last until the youngest dependent turns 18 (or when they graduate from high school or a high school equivalency program – whichever is later). In some cases, court ordered child support may continue past 18 or high school graduation, if the child is disabled or has special needs, for example. Additionally, courts may also require parents to pay back-owed support even after their children turn 18. There is no statute of limitations on child support in the state of Texas.

If you're trying to untangle child support, having someone who has done it before can be helpful? That's what an experienced Austin child support attorney does. We understand the laws surrounding child support and work hard to achieve the best possible outcome for both parents and the children. An experienced lawyer will also guide you through the process, step by step, so that no critical details are missed or overlooked.

Frequently Asked Questions About Child Support

Does the Amount of Child Support Change if the Custodial Parent Remarries?

In Texas, there are certain factors that have be taken into account when determining whether or not adjustments need to be made. Here, we look at income levels of both parents, as well as any changes in circumstances such as medical costs, educational expenses, employment status etc. If one party has undergone significant financial improvement due to marriage or otherwise, then this could lead to changes in payments. It's also possible that no modifications will be necessary whatsoever – it all depends on the case specifics.

Can Child Support Payments be Made in Installments?

Child support payments are typically made in installments. They can be setup to coincide with your pay schedule whether it’s monthly, bi-monthly, weekly, or bi-weekly.

Can Child Support be Waived if the Noncustodial Parent is Unemployed?

It’s not uncommon for noncustodial parents to find themselves unemployed when they’re responsible for making child support payments.

The good news is that there may be options available if you can’t make your regular child support payments due to unemployment. Generally speaking, waiving or reducing the amount of court-ordered payments is possible when certain factors come into play. It's important to note that while your case might qualify for a reduction or waiver of payment, such requests must still go through the courts and legal proceedings so that all parties' interests are taken into account.

Generally, you can’t change the amount of support (without agreement from the receiving party), before the date of filing a request for modification. This can be done through the Office of the Attorney General of the State of Texas (OAG), by using a private attorney, or representing yourself. But you must formally request the change through the State and it usually can’t go beyond the date of your request, without agreement or grace granted from the receiving party. Court authorized payment plans are not uncommon if/when an obligor falls behind and has an arrearage in child support. Also, interest is usually applied to back child support in these situations.

Are There Any Tax Benefits Associated with Paying Child Support?

First of all, we are not accountants. With that said, the IRS states, “Child support payments are neither deductible by the payer, nor taxable to the recipient. When you calculate your gross income to see if you're required to file a tax return, you do not include child support payments received.” However, when you're applying for a lease or home ownership, you may include a court ordered amount in anticipated resources available to cover such needs.