Child support and divorce in Texas are processes that go hand in hand. Getting a divorce, you and your spouse have to decide who will cover most part of the kid-related expenses, taking into consideration the state laws and the best interest of the child. Therefore, you need to understand what factors influence the payment sum and how you can enforce the support order.
Calculating Child Support Payments in Texas
Around 85% of parents in Texas report spending 10% or more of their household income on child care costs. That is why, the question of support payments is one of the most critical and important when it comes to the dissolution of marriage. In Texas, the child support percentage of Net Monthly Income depends on how many children the couple has:
- One - 20%;
- Two - 25%;
- Three - 30%;
- Four - 35%;
- Five - 40%;
- Six - no less than 40%.
Factors in the Texas Child Support Formula
Before calculating child support, a couple has to decide on the custody of children. In Texas, custody is called conservatorship. If one parent (obligee) is granted sole physical conservatorship, which means that the child will live with this person, the other guardian (who in this case is regarded as ‘the obligor’) has to pay child support. While calculating child care expenses, the court will stick to Chapter 154, Subchapter A of the Texas Family Code and take into consideration the following factors:
- Kid’s age;
- Physical and mental state of the kid;
- Financial situation of each party;
- All the possible childcare expenses;
- Resources and income of a custodial parent;
- The amount of time each spouse spends with the kid;
- Possible health costs;
- Extra expenses (tutoring, counseling, extracurricular activities);
- Debts of each spouse.
How to Apply for Child Support in Texas?
In order to apply for child support in Texas, you will need to provide your personal information such as:
- Contact information;
- Driver’s License number;
- History of employment;
- Your lawyer’s info, if any.
Besides, you will also have to include information about your child and your spouse.
There are several ways of applying for child support in the state. If you’re filing for divorce, it might be easier to do it in the process:
- Prepare for filing. Gather your, your spouse’s and your child’s personal information.
- Get your paperwork in order. You will need to collect and fill in child support forms along with the other mandatory documents.
- Determine in which court you need to file. In Texas, it should be the court of the county where your children live.
- Print and sign your forms. Mind that some documents can only be signed in front of a notary.
- File the forms with the court and get a case number from the clerk. You will also need to pay a filing fee of about $300.
- Send a copy of your petition to the office of the Attorney General. It is important to do it only if your kids received Medicaid or TANF.
- Serve your spouse. You can do it in several ways in Texas: mail it or deliver it personally.
- Contact the clerk after a 60-day waiting period to schedule a hearing. Bring the rest of your paperwork to it and get a Final Decree.
Child Support Calculator Tips
While calculating child support payments, it is important to take into account the following points:
- Child support is estimated according to Texas Family Code Section 154.001. The amounts are based on a percentage of the income of the obligor after the tax and the number of kids. However, please mind that these rules apply only in cases when the obligor earns less than $9,200 per month.
- Health insurance. According to the law, if health insurance is available for kids through a parent’s employment or membership in a union, trade association, or other organization at a reasonable cost, kids will be covered by it. If obligor is the one providing the insurance, they will have to pay less child support.
- Income sources. When calculating child support rates, one must take into consideration not only salary but also commissions, military pay, tips, overtime, and bonuses. Even if the obligor is unemployed, he or she might still have sources of income (retirement, unemployment benefits, Social Security compensation), which can be taken into account when making calculations. Besides, any gifts, prizes, alimony, property income will also be considered.
- Net income. According to state guidelines, it is necessary to consider obligor’s net income rather than gross income when determining the payment amount. It is necessary to subtract Social Security taxes, federal income tax, union dues, health insurance premiums, and certain medical expenses spent on kids if.
Example of Calculating Child Support
Let’s imagine that Alex and Madison are going through a divorce and now have to calculate child support for their two underage children. Alex is granted sole physical custody, so according to child support laws in Texas, Madison is to pay. Here is his calculation of child support:
Madison’s salary per month is $2500, which is an average income for the state of Texas. He will not provide health insurance for his kids and is not a member of a union. According to the laws of the state, he will pay monthly OASDI, Medicare, and Federal Texas of $349.17. After that, his monthly income will be 2150.83. As Alex and Madison have 2 children, the second spouse has to pay 25% of his net monthly income. Based on the official child support calculator of Texas, Madison is to pay $537.71.
Texas Child Support Resources
- In order to figure out the way of calculating child support, spouses have to be aware of child support laws in Texas. In this regard, they have to check the child support guidelines in Chapter 154 of Texas Family Code.
- If spouses need additional information regarding the payments, they can visit the official website of Texas general attorney and read Frequently Asked Questions about Child Support.
- If parents reside in different states, they can get the needed information in in The Uniform Interstate Family Support Act.
- The deaf and hard-of-hearing parents can get assistance in Child Support Information for The Deaf and Hard-Of-Hearing.
Frequently Asked Questions About State Child Support
1) What Is Child Support Supposed to Cover?
In Texas, child support covers basic needs: food, clothes, housing, education, and healthcare. However, as a rule, the primary caregiver has the discretion to use the money for the child as he or she sees fit.
2) How Is Child Support Collected?
It can be done through a direct deposit, an electronic payment card, or a bank check. Alternatively, an employer can deduct the amount from payer’s salary and send it to a child welfare agency.
3) Can the Amount of Child Support Be Modified?
Yes, it can. However, parents will need to officially request the court to make modifications. There also should be some serious reasons for modification, such as additional expenses for school, healthcare, or extracurricular activities or changes in the parental income.
4) Does Child Support End Automatically When the Child Turns 18?
It depends on a few factors. The obligor may continue paying if the kid is still dependent on his/her caregivers or haven’t finished school yet. If the latter has a physical or mental disability, which requires constant treatment, child support may last for an indefinite period. Alternatively, if a child gets married or emancipated, the payments may end earlier.
5) What if we Share Custody?
In most of the cases, you will still have to pay child support even if the custody is shared.