The following is a summary of Texas child support laws, and is by no means intended to be an all-inclusive description of what to expect in your particular case. In some cases, the exact text of the statute may have been simplified and/or modified to provide for easier understanding. For a more specific understanding of the laws, you should consult the full Texas Code and/or consult with an attorney about how the law might apply to your particular situation.

Child Support Not Conditional Upon Visitation.

A court may not render an order that conditions the payment of child support on whether or not the other parent allows access to a child.

-From Section 154.011 of the Texas Family Code.

Calculation of Resources for Child Support Purposes.

The court shall calculate net resources for the purpose of determining child support liability as provided by this section. Resources include:

  1. 100 percent of all wage and salary income and other compensation for personal services (including commissions, overtime pay, tips, and bonuses);
  2. Interest, dividends, and royalty income;
  3. Self-employment income, including benefits allocated to an individual from a business or undertaking in the form of a proprietorship, partnership, joint venture, close corporation, agency, or independent contractor, less ordinary and necessary expenses required to produce that income. In its discretion, the court may exclude from self-employment income amounts allowable under federal income tax law as depreciation, tax credits, or any other business expenses shown by the evidence to be inappropriate in making the determination of income available for the purpose of calculating child support;
  4. Net rental income (defined as rent after deducting operating expenses and mortgage payments, but not including noncash items such as depreciation); and
  5. All other income actually being received, including severance pay, retirement benefits, pensions, trust income, annuities, capital gains, social security benefits, unemployment benefits, disability and workers’ compensation benefits, interest income from notes regardless of the source, gifts and prizes, spousal maintenance, and alimony.

Resources do not include return of principal or capital, accounts receivable, or benefits paid in accordance with aid for families with dependent children. The court shall deduct the following items from resources to determine the net resources available for child support:

  1. Social security taxes;
  2. Federal income tax based on the tax rate for a single person claiming one personal exemption and the standard deduction;
  3. State income tax;
  4. Union dues; and
  5. Expenses for health insurance coverage for the obligor’s child.

If the actual income of the obligor is significantly less than what the obligor could earn because of intentional unemployment or underemployment, the court may apply the support guidelines to the earning potential of the obligor.

When appropriate, in order to determine the net resources available for child support, the court may assign a reasonable amount of deemed income attributable to assets that do not currently produce income. The court may assign a reasonable amount of deemed income to income-producing assets that a party has voluntarily transferred or on which earnings have intentionally been reduced.

In a situation involving multiple households due child support, child support received by an obligor shall be added to the obligor’s net resources to compute the net resources before determining the child support credit or applying the percentages in the multiple household table in this chapter.

-From Sections 154.062 through 154.070 of the Texas Family Code.

Child Support Guidelines.

The guidelines for the support of a child in this section are specifically designed to apply to situations in which the obligor’s monthly net resources are $6,000 or less. If the obligor’s monthly net resources are $6,000 or less, the court shall presumptively apply the following schedule in rendering the child support order:

  • For 1 child - 20% of Obligor’s net resources
  • For 2 children - 25% of Obligor’s net resources
  • For 3 children - 30% of Obligor’s net resources
  • For 4 children - 35% of Obligor’s net resources
  • For 5 children - 40% of Obligor’s net resources
  • For 6 or more children - Not less than the amount for 5 children

If the obligor’s net resources exceed $6,000 per month, the court shall presumptively apply the percentage guidelines to the first $6,000 of the obligor’s net resources. Without further reference to the percentage recommended by these guidelines, the court may order additional amounts of child support as appropriate, depending on the income of the parties and the proven needs of the child.

-From Sections 154.125 and 154.126 of the Texas Family Code.

Medical Support.

The guidelines for support of a child are based on the assumption that the court will order the obligor to provide medical support for the child in addition to the amount of child support calculated in accordance with those guidelines.

-From Section 154.064 of the Texas Family Code.

Joint Custody Situations.

The appointment of joint custody (or joint managing conservatorship as it is called in Texas) does not impair or limit the authority of the court to order child support.

-From Section 153.138 of the Texas Family Code.

Deviation from Child Support Guidelines.

The amount of a periodic child support payment established by the child support guidelines in effect in this state at the time of the hearing is presumed to be reasonable, and an order of support conforming to the guidelines is presumed to be in the best interest of the child. A court may determine that the application of the guidelines would be unjust or inappropriate under the circumstances. In determining whether application of the guidelines would be unjust or inappropriate under the circumstances, the court shall consider evidence of all relevant factors, including:

  1. The age and needs of the child;
  2. The ability of the parents to contribute to the support of the child;
  3. Any financial resources available for the support of the child;
  4. The amount of time of possession of and access to a child;
  5. The amount of the obligee ’s net resources, including the earning potential of the obligee if the actual income of the obligee is significantly less than what the obligee could earn because the obligee is intentionally unemployed or underemployed and including an increase or decrease in the income of the obligee or income that may be attributed to the property and assets of the obligee;
  6. Child care expenses incurred by either party in order to maintain gainful employment;
  7. Whether either party has the managing conservatorship or actual physical custody of another child;
  8. The amount of alimony or spousal maintenance actually and currently being paid or received by a party;
  9. The expenses for a son or daughter for education beyond secondary school;
  10. Whether the obligor or obligee has an automobile, housing, or other benefits furnished by his or her employer, another person, or a business entity;
  11. The amount of other deductions from the wage or salary income and from other compensation for personal services of the parties;
  12. Provision for health care insurance and payment of uninsured medical expenses;
  13. Special or extraordinary educational, health care, or other expenses of the parties or of the child;
  14. The cost of travel in order to exercise possession of and access to a child;
  15. Positive or negative cash flow from any real and personal property and assets, including a business and investments;
  16. Debts or debt service assumed by either party; and
  17. Any other reason consistent with the best interest of the child, taking into consideration the circumstances of the parents.

To promote the amicable settlement of disputes between the parties to a suit, the parties may enter into a written agreement containing provisions for support of the child and for modification of the agreement. If the court finds that the agreement is in the child’s best interest, the court shall render an order in accordance with the agreement. If the court finds the agreement is not in the child’s best interest, the court may request the parties to submit a revised agreement or the court may render an order for the support of the child.

-From Section 154.122, 154.123, and 154.124 of the Texas Family Code.

Method of Child Support Payment.

The court may order that child support be paid by periodic payments; a lump-sum payment; an annuity purchase; the setting aside of property to be administered for the support of the child as specified in the order; or any combination of periodic payments, lump-sum payments, annuity purchases, or setting aside of property.

-From Section 154.003 of the Texas Family Code.

Income Withholding Order.

In a proceeding in which periodic payments of child support are ordered, modified, or enforced, the court or Title IV-D agency shall order that income be withheld from the disposable earnings of the obligor as provided by Chapter 158. If the court does not order income withholding, an order for support must contain a provision for income withholding to ensure that withholding may be effected if a delinquency occurs.

-From Section 154.007 of the Texas Family Code.

Termination of Child Support Obligation.

The court may order either or both parents to support a child in the manner specified by the order:

  1. Until the child is 18 years of age or until graduation from high school, whichever occurs later;
  2. Until the child is emancipated through marriage, through removal of the disabilities of minority by court order, or by other operation of law;
  3. Until the death of the child or a parent ordered to pay child support; or
  4. If the child is disabled as defined in this chapter, for an indefinite period.

-From Sections 154.001 and 154.006 of the Texas Family Code.

 

This information has been summarized from the Texas statutes. You can find the full-text version of these and other Texas divorce statutes online here: Texas Divorce Laws.

LEARN MORE ABOUT GENERAL CHILD SUPPORT LAWS.

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