How Child Support Is Calculated in Texas
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In Texas, both parents are expected to contribute financially to the children they bring into the world. One parent may be ordered to pay child support to the other parent while the child is a minor. Determining the appropriate amount of child support is often complicated. Generally, child support is determined by the court by using careful calculations and using this information in conjunction with child support guidelines.
Purpose of Child Support
Child support is intended to help a child receive an adequate standard of living even if his or her parents do not live together.
For courts to determine the appropriate amount of child support, it must first consider the amount of the paying parentís income that is available for support. This figure is then applied to the child support guidelines. Then, the court may consider other factors that may justify deviating from the child support guidelines.
The financial obligation of a parent to provide child support is determined by looking at all available sources. The court does not only consider the parentís current earnings.
Determining Net Resources
Net resources are the available resources from which a person may be able to meet a child support obligation. Many people think wages and salaries are the only types of income or resources that can be considered. However, the Texas Family Code recognizes 26 different sources of income that can be considered when determining net resources. These include spousal maintenance, self-employment income, annuities, severance pay, retirement benefits, dividends, commissions, bonuses, overtime pay, tips, trust income, pensions, capital gains, workersí compensation and disability benefits, among other forms of income.
Even though Texas law provides for looking at 26 different sources of income, Texas courts may be able to look at even more sources of income. For example, the Dallas Court of Appeals has held that an inheritance can be considered as net resources although it does not technically meet the statutory definition and that it did meat the language under the Texas Family Code to be considered a resource. The First Court of Appeals has held that money from a personal injury settlement can be considered as a resource. Likewise, courts can provide for a greater child support award when the recipient parent recently had reduced alimony. Tax deductions and credits may also be considered when determining a personís gross income.
Limited et Resources
The child support guidelines are based on the paying parent having net resources less than $8,550 a month. When this is the case, the court is required to presumptively apply he percentages that match the net resource amount of the paying parent.
Greater Amount of Net Resources
When the paying parentís net resources exceed $8,550 a month, guideline percentages presumptively apply to the initial $8,550 of the paying parentís net resources. However, the court can then order additional child support depending on the needs of the child and the parentsí incomes.
Deviating from the Guidelines
In addition to being able to deviate from the guidelines when net resources exceed $8,550, courts can deviate from these guidelines in other situations. The guidelines are the presumptive correct amount of support. However, if evidence refutes this presumption and shows that applying the guidelines would not be in the best interest of the child, the court can deviate from them.
Best Interest of the Child
When a court determines whether or not to deviate from the guidelines, the first consideration is whether a deviation is in the best interest of the child, a cornerstone in any courtís decision pertaining to a child. The trial court applies this standard when reviewing questions pertaining to child support. Trial courts are given much latitude in determining whether this standard supports or refutes deviation.
Legal Assistance for Child Support Matters
Parents who are embroiled in a dispute regarding child support may wish to contact their own lawyer to determine their rights and obligations. If a party is seeking child support beyond the amount of support listed in the child support guidelines, it is important that he or she seek experienced legal counsel. It is often difficult to convince the court to go beyond the child support guidelines when the parties are not in agreement. Acquiring a ruling in this regard often requires substantial evidence regarding the paying parentís ability to support, his or her resources, assets that are available for support, income-producing assets, the extent of the childís needs and other relevant factors.
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Disclaimer: While every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy of this publication, it is not intended to provide legal advice as individual situations will differ and should be discussed with an expert and/or lawyer.