Minimum child support payments in Texas are determined by statutory guidelines in the Texas Family Code, which also provides a table for determining estimated payments based on net earnings. Child support in Texas depends on how many children you have that are not in your primary custody. The amount of support you pay, however, is capped at a certain percentage if a court has issued multiple child support orders.
Basic Child Support
In Texas, generally, a child's primary conservator (primary custodian) receives child support based on the obligor's net resources, which include not only income received from his workplace, but money that comes from overtime pay, commissions, pensions, retirement incomes, trusts, annuities, Social Security and gifts, less amounts paid for Social Security taxes, federal income tax, union dues and any amount taken out of the obligor's check that pays health insurance premiums for the child. If only one child is born out of a relationship, the minimum amount of child support paid is 20 percent of these net resources.
Statutory guidelines in Texas assume that an obligor who pays child support has maximum net resources in the amount of not more than $6,000. If the parent ordered to pay support has net resources exceeding this amount, the court defers to 20 percent of the first $6,000 only. If two children are born of a marriage, the 20 percent rule does not apply to both; the standard established by law is 25 percent of the obligor's net resources. If three children are supported, 30 percent of the obligor's net income is deducted; for four and five children, 35 and 40 percent, respectively. If an obligor supports six or more children, he pays not less than he would for five--40 percent. Like most states, Texas law includes a provision permitting child support payments to be deducted directly from the obligor's paychecks. Net earnings can be calculated by the week, bi-weekly or monthly, depending on the obligor's pay schedule. When assessing the amount of child support, the court cannot consider earnings of a new spouse. For example, if the primary conservator marries a spouse who makes considerably more than the obligor, child support cannot be reduced with the tacit expectation that financial obligations will be met by the new stepparent.
Parent Not Working
When an obligor is not working, child support payments are still owed, even if they cannot be made by the obligor. The child support rate for an unemployed obligor is figured by the state as if the obligor were working 40 hours per week making minimum wage. If back child support is owed, this can be enforced in the form of a judgment lien against the obligor's real or personal property.
When Child Support Ends
In most cases, child support ends when the child turns 18. Child support may also terminate, however, if the child gets married, has his disabilities of a minor removed by court order or operation of law, or if the child dies. A court can order an obligor to pay child support indefinitely, should a child be disabled.
Seek Professional Help
Child support laws in Texas, although seemingly straightforward, can be complicated. If you have questions, contact the office of the State of Texas Attorney General or an attorney who specializes in family law. Help is also available through low-cost or pro bono legal aid services.