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How is Child Support Calculated in Texas?

Sarah Aminzadeh Milinsky | July 18, 2022

How does a 50/50 Possession Schedule Affect the Calculation of Child Support in Texas?

As a Texas family law attorney, I am often asked how child support is calculated if the parents exercise a 50/50 possession schedule. There is a general misunderstanding amongst parents that a 50/50 possession schedule means neither parent has to pay child support. This is not always the case.

Most courts believe that the purpose of child support is to assist the “custodial parent” with the expenses of raising children. For example, if the custodial parent has the children 65% of the time, the courts assume that that parent is bearing 65% of the everyday expenses of the children.

However, when parents share equal parenting time, the natural assumption is that child support is no longer necessary. If each parent has the children for an equal amount of time, isn’t each parent paying the same amount to house and feed them? That’s not necessarily true. In fact, the Texas Family Code is completely silent on that scenario!

Thus, the courts are left to decide whether ordering child support is fair and just and in the best interest of the children for each individual family. In some scenarios, that might mean a monthly child support obligation, while other scenarios call for offset child support.

Monthly Child Support

When parents participate in a 50/50 possession schedule but are not on equal playing fields (i.e., there is a significant disparity in the parents’ income), courts will likely establish a monthly child support obligation. The reason being that a court’s ultimate goal is to order what is in the best interest of the child(ren). For example, if Dad can barely afford a one-bedroom apartment in a dangerous part of town while Mom can afford a mansion and family vacations to Switzerland for Spring Break, the courts will likely find that it makes more sense to order Mom, the higher wage earner, to pay maximum child support (and sometimes even more) for the purpose of equalizing the playing field.

Texas calculates child support based solely on the obligor’s income. The calculation of the monthly child support obligation begins with determining the obligor’s gross income, deducting certain costs to determine the net income (e.g., Social Security taxes, health insurance premiums, etc.), and taking a percentage of that amount depending on the number of children:

Percentage of Net Resources Depending on Number of Child
1 child20%
2 children25%
3  children30%
4 children35%
5 children40%

The formula for calculating child support under Texas law also depends on how the obligor is paid:

If the obligor is paid monthly:

  1. Net Monthly Resources X Percentage from Table = Monthly Obligation

If the obligor is paid semi-monthly (twice per month):

  1. Net Monthly Resources X Percentage from Table = Monthly Obligation
  2. Monthly Obligation ÷ 2 = Obligation Twice per Month

If the obligor is paid bi-weekly (every 2 weeks):

  1. Net Monthly Resources X Percentage from Table = Monthly Obligation
  2. (Monthly Obligation X 12) ÷ 26 = Obligation Every Two Weeks

If the obligor is paid weekly:

  1. Net Monthly Resources X Percentage from Table = Monthly Obligation
  2. (Monthly Obligation X 12) ÷ 52 = Obligation Every Week

Maximum Child Support in Texas

Beginning September 1, 2019, Texas adjusted the maximum amount that can be considered as the monthly net resources of the obligor from $8,550 to $9,200. The table below outlines the maximum child support the obligor can be ordered to pay depending on the amount of children he or she is responsible for:

Maximum Child Support Obligation Depending on Number of Children
1 child$1,840
2 children$2,300
3  children$2,760
4 children$3,220
5 children$3,680

Offset Child Support

If the court does not order a monthly child support obligation, but the parents share equal parenting time, the court may order the higher-earning parent to pay “offset child support” to the lesser-earning parent. This amount is determined by calculating the difference between what the two parents’ child support obligations would be. For example, if Father’s monthly child support obligation to Mother is $1,800 based on his income, and Mother’s monthly child support obligation to Father is $700 based on her income, then Father would be ordered to pay a monthly offset of $1,100 to Mother ($1,800 – $700 = $1,100).

Other courts prefer that full child support orders be in effect both ways. In other words, using the example above, every month Father would pay Mother $1,800, and Mother would pay Father $700. The result would still be a monthly offset of $1,100 to be paid by Father to Mother.

Sometimes, though rarely, a court may find that child support should not be ordered at all if evidence shows that both parents have equal incomes, equal work hours (thus having equal childcare expenses), and equal out-of-pocket child expenses (e.g., fees for extracurricular activities). Only when the parents are on equal playing fields will the courts consider this option.

Learn More

An advocate for problem-solving approaches, including Collaborative Divorce, Sarah uses creativity and interest-based negotiations to resolve family law and divorce matters without unnecessary cost and conflict. Helping clients act with logic rather than emotion to achieve their goals is a primary emphasis in her practice. Sarah graduated cum laude from the University of North Texas Dallas College of Law.

If you have questions about child support in a Texas Divorce, please contact Sarah Aminzadeh Milinsky at 214-373-7676.

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