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Calculating child support in Texas

Any Texas parent of a minor child may be interested to learn how child support is calculated. Child support in Texas is paid until a child turns 18 years old or graduates from high school, whichever is later, so it is important for both parents to ensure that the right amount is being paid. A judge may extend support for a disabled child who is not capable of self-support.

In Texas, child support amounts are based on the net income of the non-custodial parent. Net income includes wages and salary, self-employment income, rental income, royalties, dividends or interest and any other income the parent receives such as severance pay or retirement benefits. Net income does not include the earnings or income of a parent's new spouse or amounts owed to the parent but not yet received. Before calculating child support, the guidelines subtract taxes, union dues and any health insurance costs for the child.

Once net income is determined, the judge assigns support based on the number of children the parents have together. If there is only one child, the non-custodial parent will pay 20 percent of his or her income. That amount goes up to 40 percent for five children and could be increased for additional children. These guidelines are intended to apply if the non-custodial parent's monthly income is below $7,500. The percentages can be reduced slightly when the non-custodial parent supports another child. Different amounts may also be applied when the parents share parenting time.

A family law attorney may be able to help a client negotiate a child support agreement so that it is not left up to the court. If support is in fact ordered and the non-custodial parent has a change in financial circumstances that would make payment of the ordered amount impossible, the attorney can petition the court for a modification.

Source: Legal Aid of NorthWest Texas, "Child Support Calculations ", September 15, 2014

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Bruce Turner

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