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Understanding Texas Child Support Guidelines: A Comprehensive Guide

a mother and her daughter doing homework

As the founding shareholder of a law firm specializing in Texas Family Law, I often encounter clients who are navigating the complexities of child support. Understanding Texas child support guidelines is crucial for parents to ensure their children's financial needs are met post-divorce or separation. In this blog post, I aim to demystify these guidelines and provide a clear understanding of how child support is determined in Texas.

1. Basis of Child Support in Texas

In Texas, child support is viewed as the right of the child, not the receiving parent. The guidelines are designed to try to provide the child with the same standard of living they would have enjoyed had the household remained intact. The primary considerations include the needs of the child and the ability of the non-custodial parent to pay.

2. Calculation of Child Support

The Texas Family Code provides specific guidelines for calculating child support. These are based on the non-custodial parent's net income and the number of children requiring support. The percentages are as follows:

- 20% of net income for one child

- 25% for two children

- 30% for three children

- 35% for four children

- 40% for five children

- Not less than 40% for six or more

It's important to note that “net income” encompasses all income sources, not just wages. This includes dividends, retirement benefits, and rental income, among others. Further, we often see a situation in which the non-custodial parent owns their own business and, while living well, often report little to no income. We are experts in tracing actual income, which can be imputed to the non-custodial parent when it comes time to calculate child support.

3. Adjustments and Deviations

While the guidelines provide a baseline, adjustments can be made based on various factors like the child's age and needs, the ability of the parents to contribute to support, and any special educational or healthcare needs the child may have. A judge can deviate from these guidelines when circumstances warrant.

4. Duration of Child Support

In Texas, child support generally continues until the child turns 18 or graduates from high school, whichever occurs later. However, support may extend beyond this if the child has certain disabilities.

5. Modification of Child Support Orders

Child support orders aren't set in stone. They can be modified if there's a significant change in circumstances, such as a change in income, unemployment, or a change in the child's needs.

6. Enforcement

Texas takes the enforcement of child support orders seriously. Non-compliance can lead to legal consequences, including wage garnishment, fines, or even jail time.

7. Conclusion

Navigating Texas child support guidelines can be complex. It's essential for parents to understand these guidelines or seek legal counsel to ensure their child's needs are adequately met. Remember, child support is about the child's right to financial support from both parents.

For more detailed guidance tailored to your specific situation, consulting with a qualified family law attorney is always recommended. Our firm, Coker, Robb & Cannon, Family Lawyers, has more than 25 years of experience helping parents understand and navigate these legal waters for the benefit of their children.

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