I get calls and emails regularly regarding child support questions, mostly from men who are served with citation ordering them to appear in court and to bring all their financial information with them so child support can be order against them, in favor of the child and the child's custodial parent. The first question is inevitably this, "do I have to pay". Well, sure, unless you want to pursue primary conservatorship, which itself is another costly and time consuming endeavor, and properly addressed in a totally separate discussion.
Assuming that you do have to pay support, the next question generally becomes, "how much". In Texas, the statutes that control the calculation of child support can be found in the Texas Family Code chapter 154. Only Net Resources can be used to calculate a parent's child support obligation. The Texas Attorney General also publishes an annual tax chart that can be useful in determining the calculation of support.
What is included in "net" I am asked? Well, the easier answer is to outline what specifically is not included in net resources, which is social security taxes, federal income taxes, state income taxes, union dues, expenses for the cost of health insurance or cash medical support on the behalf of the child before the court only, and any non discretionary retirement plan contributions. Literally everything else that comes into your pocket in the form of money can and will be used in determining a parent's net resources. When a net monthly income amount has been determined, your commitment to the child in the form of financial support is %20 of that number.
The percentage increases by %5 for each additional child that is before the Court at the time the support obligation is being calculated. Now, invariable many people tell me they have other children that they have a duty to support, and want to know if that affects the numbers. Fortunately it does, and there is a very clean chart that outlines how the percentages of net resources are affected given the number of children not presently before the court that can be found in section 154.129 of the Texas Family Code. Always ensure your prior support obligations are considered before entry of any new support orders. Some common pitfalls that should always be avoided when calculating a support obligation that I always address with clients are too numerous to delineate here.
However, you always want to ensure that your spouse and her income are never used in calculating your support obligation. If you are calculating a support obligation for multiple children, always ensure that the Order clearly outlines the reduction in your support amount as the children age out and your support obligation for them terminates. Lastly, always attempt to negotiate the issue of retroactive support if it becomes an issue that is being demanded of you.
Although the custodial parent is entitled to ask for the Court to Order retroactive child support, it is only possible for the Court to Order an amount from the date you and the other parent separated. More importantly, the amount may be of such a significant amount, that it is worth contesting the issue altogether as the financial impact, when considered with to potential of having a judgment issued which carries the penalty of interest over time, may necessitate the need for your counsel to contest the issue.
Child Support Calculation Basics in Texas
How child support is calculated in the State of Texas, and some of the common misunderstandings and pitfalls to look for when you are drafting an order.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Jason Cruz
Jason Cruz, President of Cruz Law, P.C. has been practicing in the area of Family Law in and around Bexar County Texas for nearly a decade. His commitment to professionalism and zealous representation form the foundation of a Law Practice dedicated to serving others in times of need.
Copyright Cruz Law, P.C.
Disclaimer: Every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy of this publication at the time it was written. It is not intended to provide legal advice or suggest a guaranteed outcome as individual situations will differ and the law may have changed since publication. Readers considering legal action should consult with an experienced lawyer to understand current laws and.how they may affect a case. For specific technical or legal advice on the information provided and related topics, please contact the author.