A Guide to Child Support in Texas
Child Support is money that one parent pays to the other parent to help support his or her child. In the majority of cases, one parent will have the child the majority of the time. In those cases, the parent who has the child the lesser amount of time pays child support to the parent who has the child the majority of the time. In some cases, the parents have 50/50 possession of the child and child support is handled differently.
Why Does One Parent Pay Child Support Instead of the Other Parent?
Contrary to popular belief, child support is not meant to punish a parent. Raising children is expensive and typically the parent who has the child the majority of the time will bear the brunt of the expenses. Therefore, the rationale is that the parent who does not have the child should still contribute financially to offset the costs of the parent who usually has the child. It’s not intended to be a payment to the other parent, it’s a payment for the child’s expenses.
What Is Child Support Based On?
Child support is based solely on the income of the parent who will have the child less time. The parent who has the child the majority of the time will not pay child support. Furthermore, that parent’s income or assets will not factor into the child support calculation.
The payment itself is based on the paying parent’s net resources. It is not based on their assets and does not take any debts into account. Also, if either parent has re-married, the new spouse’s income will not be taken into account and will have no bearing on the amount of child support ordered.
What Are Net Resources?
In Texas, the guideline child support is calculated on how much money the payer (the parent paying child support) makes monthly, less certain deductions. The calculation for net resources is a little bit different than the calculation for net income, but it’s fairly similar. It accounts for income from salary or wages, interests and dividends from investments, social security benefits, veteran’s disability benefits, unemployment benefits, and other sources of income. Then items are deducted from that amount to include social security taxes, federal income taxes based upon the rate of a single person claiming one personal exemption, and a few other deductions. The amount remaining is considered net resources and this is the amount that child support will be based upon.
Texas has a “cap” which is an upper limit for net resources. The cap is currently $8550 per month. Meaning that if the paying parent’s net resources are under $8,550 per month, then the calculation to determine net resources is used to determine the amount. On the other hand, if the paying parent’s net resources are over $8,550 per month, then $8,550 is established as the amount for net resources. So, if the paying parent’s net resources are actually $20,000 per month, then $8,550 is entered as the amount for net resources.
How Does Child Support Take into Account the Number of Children Affected?
Once you have established an amount for net resources, the amount owed in child support is based upon the number of children involved. It’s a calculation that takes into account the number of children involved in the case, and also the number of children that the paying parent is responsible for supporting that are not involved in the current case. Therefore, a paying parent who pays child support for only 1 child will pay a different amount from a paying parent who pays child support for 1 child but is remarried and now has 2 additional children.
Where do the Child Support Payments Go?
Child support payments go to the Child Support Disbursement Unit of the State of Texas Office of the Attorney General (AG). The paying parent makes a payment to the Child Support Disbursement Unit, who then passes the payment along to the other parent. This is an efficient system that protects both parties.
The paying parent has a record through the AG’s office, of the date and amount of the payment, so they have some level of protection against claims that they did not pay or that they underpaid. The parent receiving the money also has a record through the AG’s office of the date and amount that payments were made, as well as any missing or deficient payments. They also have the protection that if the paying parent does not pay, then the Office of the Attorney General may prosecute the paying parent for non-payment or underpayment.
If you are considering divorce, or have questions regarding potential child support or have other family legal issues, contact the family law attorneys at Hayes, Berry, White & Vanzant. Give us a call to set up a consultation at (940) 387-3518, or through our website.
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