Calculating the amount begins with the noncustodial parent’s gross income, including wages, salaries, tips, military pay, bonuses, workers’ compensation settlements, retirement benefits, investment dividends, and any other sources of income. The court may also place an income value on assets such as a vacation home or inheritance. Once the gross income is determined, the net income is calculated by reducing the gross amount by items such as Social Security and income taxes, union dues, and the cost of health insurance or medical expenses paid by that parent for their children. The gross income is then divided by 12 to determine the monthly child support sum:
- 1 child = multiply the monthly net income by 20%
- 2 children = multiply the monthly net income by 25%
- 3 children = multiply the monthly net income by 30%
- 4 children = multiply the monthly net income by 35%
- 5 children = multiply the monthly net income by 40%
- For 6 or more children, the amount must be at least the same as for five children.
If the noncustodial parent’s net income exceeds $7,500 per month, the court can order increased support over these sums.
If the noncustodial parent is intentionally unemployed or underemployed to reduce child support, the court can impute or attribute income based on what that parent should be earning per month.
The court can determine if child support payments should be higher or lower than the standard fee schedule, based on income determinations and the needs of the children.
Although based primarily on a fee schedule in Texas, child support can still be a complicated calculation. That is why you should work with a knowledgeable attorney during the process. Child support is, after all, awarded to the children, not to the custodial parent. Whether you will be paying child support or receiving it on behalf of your children, their best interests should be paramount.
Modifying an Existing Arrangement
You can request a child support modification from the court if there has been a significant change in circumstances since the order became effective.
For the noncustodial parent, that could mean an increase or decrease in income or an increase in the number of children the parent is now legally responsible for.
If the children’s health insurance cost for you has changed or if the children are now living with a different parent, the court might consider modifying the agreement.
Termination of Child Support
Child support is usually terminated when the last child turns 18 or completes high school, whichever is later. If a child has a disability, the support may last longer. Child support termination may also be approved by the court if the child becomes emancipated, joins the military, or if the parents remarry.
If you are in arrears with payments, child support is not terminated until you have paid them fully.