Anticipating child support costs can be intimidating and complicated. Whether you’re the primary caregiver or the parent who will be paying child support, getting the information you need to budget and plan can feel impossible. Every case is different, and every child and family is different, but you can do some simple calculations to get an idea of what to expect.
Guideline Child Support
There are some misconceptions about the “guideline” child support described in the Texas Family Code. This refers to the specific percentage of the paying parent’s income that will be paid in child support each month. This isn’t guaranteed to be the exact number, but a baseline.
How much is this percentage? That depends on how many children a parent is supporting. The percentage starts at 20% and goes up 5% for each additional child.
However, these percentages can change depending on the paying parent’s circumstances. For example, if the paying parent has another child living at home with him, that base percentage starts at 17.5% instead of 20%.
Ex. Sam and Alex are divorced. Alex has primary custody of their four children, and in their case, Sam is responsible for paying child support. Based on this information alone, Sam would be paying 35% of his monthly net resources in child support.
After figuring out the percentage a parent must pay in child support, the next step is to determine that parent’s “net monthly resources.” This is the “income” used with that percentage to determine the specific dollar amount they pay each month.
What is “net monthly resources”? This is the total monthly wages, minus taxes withheld, minus the monthly cost of the child’s health insurance premiums.
This number cannot exceed $8,550 per month. That means if a parent’s take home pay after taxes and the child’s health insurance is over $8,550, the parent will not pay child support based on earnings greater than $8,550.
In addition to earnings, net monthly resources include dividends earned in the stock market, a company car, royalties, trust income, or other forms of income. However a stepparent’s net monthly resources may not be used to calculate a parent’s child support obligation.
The guideline child support and net monthly resources are determined. All that’s left is to multiply them to determine how much child support will be paid monthly in Texas. However, there are more factors to consider.
The guideline child support is a baseline percentage. There are many factors that could lead to a parent paying more than guideline child support, such as a child’s special needs. For example, an autistic child who requires counseling, special schooling, or occupational therapy, may also require more than guideline child support. If, when, and how much are determined by the court on a case-by-case basis, but guideline child support is always the starting point.