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Specialty tag(s): Child Support, Divorce

Understanding Texas Divorce and Child Support Laws

Lerrin Reinecke | April 10, 2023

Father helping his little son with his homework

When children are involved in a divorce, their parents will need to reach an agreement on possession and conservatorship, as well as child support. In a Texas divorce, child support law establishes two parties: the obligor, who is ordered to pay child support, and the obligee, the person receiving this money. The law also sets maximum amounts to be paid, but if not agreed upon, the amount ordered in a specific case will be determined by a judge.

How Are Texas Child Support Payments Calculated?

  1. The court will determine the obligor’s net monthly income by starting with his or her gross income and subtracting state taxes, federal taxes, Social Security taxes, health insurance premiums, dental insurance premiums, medical expenses for the child, and union. Net monthly income includes the following:
    • all wage and salary income and other compensation (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 including noncash items such as depreciation); and
    • 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, unemployment benefits, disability and workers’ compensation benefits, interest income from notes regardless of the source, gifts and prizes, spousal maintenance, and alimony.
  2. A specific percentage of the obligor’s net income will be determined based on how many children are involved in the divorce. Texas child support law dictates these percentages, which range from 20% for a single child to 40% for five children. This calculation will establish a baseline amount of child support to be paid.

Can the Court Award More or Less Than the Baseline Amount?

Yes. If it’s in the child’s best interest, the court may either raise or lower the amount of child support required. The judge will examine factors such as the child’s age, the obligor’s ability to pay, how much time the child will spend with each parent, whether either parent also has custody of other children aside from those involved in the divorce, the child’s educational and health-care expenses, and whether the obligor is intentionally unemployed or underemployed.

Is There a Maximum Amount of Child Support?

Yes. Texas divorce laws state the maximum child support amount for one child is $1,840. This is because state law dictates a maximum amount of net monthly income that can be used to calculate child support, which is $9,200. Under the percentage scale established by laws governing a Texas divorce, the maximum child support amount is $2,300 for two children, $2,760 for three children, $3,220 for four children, or $3,680 for five children.

Can Child Support in Texas Be Ordered Retroactively?

Child support can be ordered to be paid retroactively if the obligor should have been making payments but a support order was not yet in place. To determine how much retroactive child support is owed, the court will evaluate the resources that were available to the obligor during that period. The court will also take into consideration whether the obligor knew of his or her obligation to help support the child financially. Retroactive child support can also be awarded if the obligor purposefully attempted to avoid supporting the child or hid assets to avoid paying the full amount of the obligation. A retroactive payment order from the court can be applied to the four years prior.

Is it Possible to Change or Challenge a Child Support Order?

Yes. If your financial circumstances have changed, you can show the court documentation of this change and request a modification. This can include events such as relocating or losing a job. An obligor may also contact the Texas Attorney General’s office in an attempt to modify the child support order if it has been in effect for three years or more and if the child support amount is different from state guidelines by $100 or 20%.

How Long Does Child Support Last in Texas?

A common question parents have is: what age does child support end in Texas? Child support in Texas doesn’t end until the child graduates from high school or turns 18, whichever happens later. Child support may also end if the child is emancipated through marriage, enlists in the military, or dies. However, child support can also be indefinite if the court deems the child mentally or physically disabled.

If you need help reaching a child custody agreement or getting a support order in place that works for you and your child, the accomplished family law attorneys at Goranson Bain Ausley can help. Our lawyers are well-versed in child support matters and will advocate for the best interests of you and your family. Contact us for a consultation today.

Learn More

Lerrin Reinecke practices family law with a deep recognition that the choice of a lawyer is one of the most important decisions a client will make, and it affects every step moving forward. She knows what is at stake in family law cases and guides clients toward resolutions that positively set the stage for the future.

Lerrin is trained in collaborative law and focuses on reaching out-of-court settlements whenever possible; however, she is a skilled litigator who will take cases to court if necessary. With each case, Lerrin works with clients and not just for them, striving to achieve their most important goals. To learn more about possession schedules during holidays, please contact Lerrin Reinecke at 214-974-8296.

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