The way child support works in Texas has many complexities and is often misunderstood. Chiefly, many parents mistakenly believe that, if the court awards them a joint managing conservatorship, they will automatically escape any potential child support obligation. This is almost always not the case, even if you split your time with the children exactly in half, due to the many potential disparities in income.
Once the court makes a ruling on the amount of child support parents owe, it is very unlikely that this amount will change – unless the circumstances of the parents change dramatically. It is entirely possible for a parent to get locked into an unfair deal – whether that is paying too much child support or receiving too little from the other parent. This is why it is vital to have a skilled and experienced family law attorney on your side, to help you negotiate a fair deal and ensure that all of your rights are protected.
No matter what your position, the team of skilled family law attorneys here at The Love DuCote Law Firm LLC will fight tirelessly to achieve you the result you desire and deserve. We have a wealth of experience supporting clients in all stages and positions of child custody battles. Let us help you.
Do not get locked into a Texas child support arrangement that is not right for you. Call us today at 832-843-1691!
The Three Types Of Custody In Texas Law
There are three different types of custody you could be granted in Texas. These are the joint conservatorship, the sole conservatorship, and the possessor conservatorship.
If both parents are granted a joint conservatorship (also known, more simply, as joint custody), they will both have an input into shaping the life of their child. An equal split of power here is not a guaranteed outcome. Instead, each couple either negotiates their own split of decision-making power, or this division is enforced by the Judge’s decision and court order.
If a parent is granted a sole conservatorship (also known as sole custody), then they have sole legal custody of their child. This means they can make all the key decisions, such as those relating to the child’s education, their religious upbringing, their medical care, and things of this nature. However, the other parent may still have access to their child, in the manner pre-detailed in the parenting agreement.
Parents who are assigned a possessor conservatorship are essentially on the other side of the sole custody situation. These parents can have their child live with them, or visit them, but have no right to make major decisions about the child’s life.
How Does Child Support In Texas Work For Each Type Of Custody?
If one parent has a sole conservatorship, it is highly likely that this parent will be entitled to receive child support – whereas the parent with the possessor conservatorship will be the one who pays child support.
Many parents believe that if they agree to a joint conservatorship, then neither of the parties involved will need to worry about paying child support, as both are taking responsibility for taking care of the children and making decisions about the child’s life. However, this is incorrect.
In the vast majority of joint custody situations, the noncustodial parent will need to pay child support in Texas. This is because things are very rarely completely fair. One parent may have the child most of the time, one parent may earn a higher income than the other parent, and so on.
Does A 50/50 Possession Schedule Mean Nobody Will Need To Pay Child Support?
So, do you have to pay child support if you have 50/50 custody in Texas? The simple answer is yes, apart from in very specific circumstances, which we will explore further down the page.
This is because even joint managing conservators who share absolutely equal parenting time, responsibility, and money spent on the child will have some difference in how much income they bring in. Furthermore, the considerations taken when calculating child support do not just consider the parent’s income, but other factors, which we will describe in full in the next sections.
How Does Texas Law Calculate Child Support?
Texas law has a fairly concrete formula for calculating child support. Usually, the Judge will use the official child support guidelines to work out how much money the noncustodial parent pays, with the following method:
- By identifying the various sources of the non-custodial parent’s net monthly income.
- By then subtracting some monthly dues from that parent’s income.
- A percentage amount of this final total will then be designated as the amount of child support, depending on the number of children in question.
However, it is important to note that a Judge is not obliged to use the guideline child support method. They may deviate from it, especially if there are unusual or complicated factors or circumstances.
This is why it is essential to have an experienced attorney on your side when determining child support, no matter whether you are the noncustodial parent or the custodial parent. Without professional legal counsel, differences in methods or perceptions of your family’s situation can lead to an unfair child support agreement.
How Is The Net Income Of The Non-Custodial Parent Calculated?
When calculating base child support obligations for noncustodial parents, most income streams will be taken into consideration. These are:
- The parent’s wages/salary.
- Any additional work-related income on top of the parent’s wages/salary, including overtime pay, tips, commission, and bonuses.
- Money earned from self-employment or other business dealings.
- Interest earned on investments.
- Income from royalties.
- Unemployment benefits, disability benefits, social security benefits, and workers compensation benefits.
- Capital gains, annuities, and trust incomes.
- Prizes and gifts.
- Income gained through property rental.
- Money gained through contractual alimony or child support payments from another ex-spouse.
However, there are some income streams that will not be used for calculating child support. These are:
- Accounts receivable.
- Payments received for foster care duties.
- Benefits you receive from any federal assistance programs.
- Returns of principal or capital.
- Any of the net income or financial resources of a new spouse or partner.
Once the net income of the noncustodial parent has been calculated in this way, there is another step. There are certain things that then need to be taken away from this total, which we will cover in the next section.
Items To Be Subtracted From The Net Income Of The Noncustodial Parent
Once the items in the section above have been added together to calculate the net income of the noncustodial parent, certain items will be subtracted before the final amount for child support payments is calculated.
These items are:
- Taxes, both at a state and federal level, including social security taxes.
- Any non-discretionary retirement plan monetary contributions.
- Dues paid to a union.
- The total amount spent on dental insurance and health insurance.
- Any money spent on uninsured medical expenses for the child or children.
Once these items have been subtracted, the total will then be divided by a certain amount, depending on the number of children you and your ex-spouse have.
How The Number Of Children Impacts The Amount Of Child Support
After the raw total of the noncustodial parent’s income has been calculated, the final amount of child support will be determined as a percentage, depending on how many children are in the equation.
The divisions are as follows:
- For one child, 20% of the resources above.
- For two children, 25% of the resources above.
- For three children, 30% of the resources above.
- For four children, 35% of the resources above.
- For five children, 40% of the resources above.
- For six or more children, at least 40% of the of the resources above.
Potential Complicating Factors To The Amount Of Child Support Owed
There are a number of factors that can impact the amount required for paying child support.
Usually, you will need to pay child support until a child is either 18 years old or graduates from their high school – whichever of these events happens last. However, if your child has a mental or physical disability that prevents them from ever being fully self-sufficient, it is possible that the Judge could order you to pay child support for an indefinite period.
Furthermore, if you earn an amount greater than $9,200 per month, the judge may order you to pay 100% of the amount your child financially needs each month.
Finally, as stated above, child support decisions made by a Judge do not need to stay within the guideline child support framework detailed above. Texas law sets guidelines, but the Judge has the power to overrule these if your circumstances are complex. If you suspect this is the case, there is all the more need to hire an attorney with experience negotiating child support payment amounts.
Is It Possible For The Amount Of Child Support To Change After The Initial Agreement?
The amount of child support owed is not necessarily set in stone. The amount of child support owed can be adjusted if there is a substantial change in the situation. Again, this is not set in stone. However, usually, a substantial change is due to one of the following factors:
- A change in the noncustodial parent’s net monthly income.
- A change in the cost of health insurance for the child or a development that means they have increased medical needs or need additional medical support.
- If there is a change to the amount of time the child lives in each household.
It is important to remember that any change in the amount of child support owed needs to be official. If you or the other parent simply attempt to enforce this verbally, there is no obligation to pay an increased amount of child support until the official process has been followed.
Negotiating A Child Support Amount With The Other Parent
You can avoid the guideline child support framework or the Judge’s discretion entirely if you are willing and able to negotiate an amount of child support with your ex-spouse directly.
Obviously, for this to happen, there needs to be a certain level of amicability and possible communication between the two parties involved. However, having an experienced attorney from a reputable law office can make this easier, as they can act as a mediator between yourself and the other parent.
When you and your ex-spouse formulate your own child support agreement, you are completely free to decide the amount and the parameters between yourself. This should take the form of a written agreement that can be submitted to court.
The child support agreement should be well thought out, and include consideration for how much each parent spends on the child, considerations for medical support, dental support, the division of parenting duties in the parenting schedule, how much time the child spends in each household, and other things of this nature. Once again, this is something that an experienced child custody attorney will be able to greatly assist with.
Paying No Child Support Is Possible
It is possible to pay no child support. However, this is entirely predicated on whether or not you and your ex-spouse are able to come to an agreement on the matter.
The easiest option is if you and your ex-spouse have an amicable relationship. In this situation, if you agree to equal parenting time and an equal division of the costs involved in raising your child, there is no need to have your child support determined by an outside party – you can simply decide it between the two of you. Of course, in this situation, it is highly important that you get this in a written agreement in case anything changes or your amicable relationship deteriorates in the future.
The other approach is usually only possible with a child support attorney at hand. If they can negotiate a deal where each parent will spend equal time with the child, and you are willing to fairly divide the costs of raising this child, you may be able to come to an agreement that makes paying child support unnecessary.
If you are considering this route, you should absolutely have the support of an experienced attorney from a reputable law office – like the team here at The Love DuCote Law Firm LLC.
Contact A Child Support Lawyer For Assistance Now
Whether you are the custodial parent or the noncustodial parent, the amount owed for child support can have a huge impact on your life – and it is not always guaranteed that the final decision will be fair without the assistance of a child support attorney. If you do not contact a lawyer, you usually have no way if your full rights are being upheld.
Here at The Love DuCote Law Firm LLC, our child support attorneys have a wealth of experience dealing with cases from all over the spectrum. On top of that, we understand the importance of retaining a strong parent-child relationship, so we will always help you negotiate a deal with compassion and understanding wherever possible to try and ensure that things stay civil.
Move forward with your life in a productive way and get the child support deal that is fair for your situation with The Love DuCote Law Firm LLC. Call us today at 832-843-1691.