Parents that are going through a divorce have to make sure their children are taken care of not only emotionally but also financially as well. Figuring out custody agreements and child support payments is an intricate part of going through a divorce. As we help navigate our clients through their divorce, they will ask questions regarding how child support works in Texas.
Common questions usually are; how much will it cost, how long will my child support last, and what do my child support payments include? They are also many factors that go into child support. Our Texas divorce attorneys are here to answer the most commonly asked questions that we receive from our clients.
What is child support in Texas?
Child support in Texas is a monthly payment paid to the custodial parent from the non-custodial parent. In case you are wondering, a custodial parent is a primary caregiver for the children, this parent has sole or primary physical custody of a child or children, and they also generally spend more time with this parent.
The non-custodial parent has custody of the child or children 50% of the time or less, depending on the custody agreement.
Because the primary caregiver is responsible for necessities for the child or children, this parent will receive child support from the non-custodial parent to help pay for these responsibilities.
How does Texas determine it?
The income of the non-custodial parent determines child support. The chart below is a guideline that the court will use. This guideline is based on a net income of $7,500.
- 1 child = 20% of net monthly income
- 2 children = 25% of net monthly income
- 3 children = 30% of net monthly income
- 4 children = 35% of net monthly income
- 5 children = 40% of net monthly income
However, as mentioned above, other factors come into play. If their net income is more or less than $7,500, the court could adjust the monthly child support payment and also look at;
- the age of the child
- the visitation and custody agreement
- alimony or spousal maintenance
- health insurance
- travel costs for the non-custodial parent
- the non-custodial parent has other children to support
There is also a limit on the awarded amount of child support. You must be able to prove additional needs for the children for an order of an additional increased amount.
What does child support cover?
Typically child support is intended to cover a child’s necessities, including food, shelter, and clothing. However, it can include various other needs, including;
- school tuition and other educational expenses
- extra-curricular activities
- summer camps
- travel and entertainment
- personal items and gifts
What happens if you don’t pay child support?
If you don’t pay child support, you could accrue a monthly 6% interest rate if your child support. Also, if you fail to pay your child support, it could cause;
- paycheck garnishment
- an increase in debt from additional interest
- a misdemeanor charge
- a loss in your driver’s license or professional licenses
Filing for bankruptcy does not excuse you from paying for child support or your accrued interest. Child support is also not a tax right-off for the non-custodial parent, and the custodial parent does not have to pay taxes.
Can you ever change your monthly child support payments?
You can only change child support if the circumstances have changed for the non-custodial parent. One parent would have to go to court and ask for a modification. A few examples would be; a parent who has lost their job for a significant time or certain unforeseen circumstances. Monthly child support can increase if the non-custodial parent receives a considerable pay increase.
How long do I have to pay child support?
These are typically the circumstances that would end your child support payments;
- the child graduates from high school
- the child turns 18 years old
- the child marries
- the child passes away
However, if the child has a long-term or life-long disability, the child support could last until the disability is overcome or throughout that child’s life.
Does a judge have to decide on the amount of child support?
No, it is always best if the two parties can agree without letting a judge decide what is best for the child or children. Your Texas divorce attorney can help you develop a child support agreement.
Working with a trusted Texas Divorce Attorney
It would be best if you worked with a Texas divorce attorney who understands the complications of child support payments. If you have additional questions on how your child support payments could be calculated, our Texas family law attorneys are here to answer any of your questions.