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How is Child Support Calculated?

by | Aug 11, 2021 | Firm News

By: Danielle Murphy, Paralegal

If you have been ordered by the court to pay a certain amount in child support each month, you may be wondering how the court determined the amount you are to pay. First, if your separation is amicable, parents can always agree to a child support amount that works for them and helps to meet the children’s needs. However, if there is no agreement regarding how much support one parent should pay, there is a standard mathematical formula that will be used.

In Texas, the court can order you to pay 20% of your monthly income towards for one child and then an additional 5% of your income for each child after that. However, the cap stops at 40%. So, depending on the number of children you have, you may end up paying between 20 and 40 percent of your net monthly income. If the parent obligated to pay support has additional children from other relationships, the percentage changes based on the number of children in which the parent has a duty to support. The below chart can help you determine what percentage of a parent’s monthly income may be used for child support.

So how does the court determine your income? There are a couple different ways:

  1. Your W-2/Taxes:
    Your W-2 and taxes can be used to calculate your income by taking the amount you made in the previous year and dividing it by 12 to determine your monthly earnings for the previous year.
  2. Your Paystubs:
    You can provide your paystubs from at least 6 months of work and that amount can be added up and then divided by the number of months you provided to get an average monthly income. If you are a salaried employee, this option would be the most optimal for you when figuring out child support.

Salary, hourly pay, bonuses, overtime and commission are also all considered when determining income available for child support purposes.

These are the easiest ways for the court or your attorney to ascertain your monthly income. Once this amount is calculated, the court would then deduct your social security taxes, any federal and state taxes, and health insurance you may be paying for the child. The result after these costs are deducted is what your monthly child support will be. This breakdown, while standard can vary depending on your financial circumstances or that of your child, so it is always best to defer to your attorney to help make sure you are getting the best deal for your financial situation.

Effective September 1, 2019, the maximum amount of monthly net resources that can be used for determining child support is $9,200.00. If a parent earns more than $9,200.00 each month, only the first $9,200.00 earned will be subject to child support. If you make more than $9,200.00, barring any special needs of the child (such as medical needs, school tuition, extra-curricular activities, etc…) the court will only deduct from the first $9,200.00 of your income.

If a parent is unemployed, the Court will determine that they are, at a minimum, able to earn minimum wage. In this instance, the Court will base the unemployed parent’s income available for child support to be the federal minimum hourly wage for a 40-hour work week. This encourages parents to not be willfully unemployed to avoid paying child support. If the Court finds that someone is willfully unemployed or underemployed, they can determine a parent’s income to be based on their earning potential.

In certain circumstances, if a child has significant medical or other needs, child support can be increased based on those considerations. However, in most situations, parents fall under the guideline support obligations outlined above.