Child Support Guidelines: What You Need to Know

houston child support

When parents divorce, separate, or otherwise end the relationship, the court may order the non-custodial parent to pay a certain portion of his or her income to the custodial parent for child support.

Child support helps secure your child’s future by allowing them to enjoy the income of both parents, regardless of where they live. The purpose of child support is not to support the parent or to secure access to the child.

Indeed, visitation is independent of whether the parent pays child support at all.

Instead, child support is intended to supplement the resources available to a parent that designates the child’s primary residence to assist in meeting the child’s needs.

In Texas, our child support determinations are made based on certain percentages of the paying parent’s net monthly income. The statutory law sets how much of a non-custodial parent’s net monthly income should go to the custodial parent for child support.

Of course, in some situations, a judge can go above or below these guideline amounts if there are sound reasons for doing so.

In Texas, these payments must continue to be paid until the child reaches 18 years of age or graduates from high school (whichever occurs later).

However, if the child becomes emancipated before this time the non-custodial parent is no longer required to pay for financial support.

The Statutory Guidelines

Under the guidelines, a parent will pay the following percentage of their “net” monthly resources to the custodial parent:

  • 20% of net income to support one child
  • 25% of net income to support two children
  • 30% of net income to support three children
  • 35% of net income to support four children
  • 40% of net income to provide for five children
  • A minimum of 40% of net income for six or more children

Notably, the above percentages are modified if a parent has other children not subject to the suit that the parent has a legal duty to support.

Calculating Child Support in Houston, Texas

In Texas, the amount of support a parent may be obligated to pay is regulated by statutory guidelines. The guidelines take into account the income of the non-custodial parent.

Along with the number of children before the court, and the total number of children the parent has a legal duty to support.

It would be in your best interest to understand these guidelines about calculating child support payments in Houston, Texas or contact us to talk to a child custody attorney.

Although the guidelines are presumed to be in the best interest of the children, this presumption may be rebutted in certain circumstances.

A party may offer evidence relating to the specific needs of a child. The amount of parenting time exercised by each party, or other case-specific factors which may warrant a deviation from the guideline.

Such deviations may give the custodial parent access to a greater amount of support funds.

Since the guidelines vary from case-to-case, the calculation of child support funds can become complex. Angela Stout is well-versed in family law and can offer you a better understanding of your obligations as your support attorney.

Going Above the Guideline Child Support Amounts

Although in most instances the child support guidelines will determine the child support amount.  Judges are not always constrained by these guidelines and may find it appropriate to order a child support payment above or below the guideline amount.

Below are a few of the factors a court may consider in determining whether it is appropriate to adjust a child support obligation above or below the guidelines:

  • A child is disabled or has otherwise extraordinary medical expenses;
  • The child needs psychological counseling or other help to allow them to adjust to the divorce;
  • A parent is required to expend considerable expenses to exercise visitation with a child; or
  • A parent fails to exercise possession with a child.

To secure an “above guideline” child support order, a parent must present proof that the extra income is directly tied to the child’s needs.

A judge will always analyze what is in the child’s best interests when setting the child support amount—not necessarily what is in the parent’s best interests.

Enforcement Actions: Failure to Pay Child Support

If the non-custodial parent falls behind on support payments, measures will be taken to ensure both overdue and regular payments are made to the custodial parent. Some of those enforcement measures include:

  • Wage withholding (deduction of payments from the non-custodial parent’s paycheck)
  • Filing liens against the non-custodial parent’s assets
  • Filing a lawsuit against the non-custodial parent
  • Collecting funds that are due from state or federal sources (tax refunds, etc.)
  • Jail sentence and judgment for non-payment

Houston child support lawyers of The Stout Law Firm, P.L.L.C. in Houston are experienced in a number of family law matters.

We will ensure that you are able to obtain a support order in the proper amount and that you will be able to enforce the terms of the order once issued.

If circumstances have substantially changed since the original support order, Ms. Stout can also help you request a modification of the support order.

The Case of the Intentionally Lazy Parent

One situation that sometimes crops up is a parent who is deliberately earning less than he or she could. All with the goal of trying to reduce their child support obligation.

Thankfully the Texas Family Code has a provision that allows the court to consider that parent’s “earning potential”. To take this factor into consideration when assessing the child support amount owed by that parent.

As child support lawyers in Houston, our attorneys have seen every trick in the book parents use. This is to try and minimize their child support obligation, from underreporting to hiding income.

Our attorneys are prepared to fight for our clients to ensure the ultimate child support obligation ordered by the court is fair.

Have a Child Support Case in Houston? Contact Angela A Stout Today.

For more information about the options available to you, contact The Stout Law Firm, P.L.L.C. No matter what assistance you need for your specific circumstances, Angela Stout and our lawyers can help.

Whether you want to file for a support order, modify an existing order, or get information about enforcement, Ms. Stout will provide you with the legal guidance needed to begin the process.

Contact an attorney at The Stout Law Firm today.