Child Support

Child support is a critical issue in any divorce or suit involving children under the age of 18. It provides financial assistance for the necessary expenses that come with raising a child. The Texas Family Code bases its guidelines for child support on all sources of income, not just primary income. This is known as net monthly resources, which is the gross monthly income of the parent paying child support minus:

  • Standard employment withholding (FICA, Social Security, and Medicare)
  • Medical insurance premiums for the children involved
  • Union Dues

Other pre-tax deductions, such as 401k or healthcare savings account contributions, do not further reduce the payor's gross monthly resources when calculating child support.

Generally, Texas courts order the non-custodial parent to pay child support based on the following guidelines:

  • 1 child 20% of net monthly resources
  • 2 children 25% of net monthly resources
  • 3 children 30% of net monthly resources
  • 4 children 35% of net monthly resources
  • 5+ children 40% of net monthly resources

Percentages are reduced when the non-custodial parent also pays support for another child. For example, the applicable percentage is reduced to 17.5 percent when one child is before the court and the payor has been ordered to support another child. Child support may be increased if the child is disabled.

In the event that the parent paying child support is unemployed, Texas courts presume the parent could work 40 hours a week making minimum wage and calculate support accordingly. Non-custodial parents who receive unemployment or disability benefits are also subject to the guidelines with individual child support obligations calculated based upon specific earnings.

Wage Withholding Orders are required with all child support agreements. These orders are sent to the employer of the parent paying child support and require the employer to deduct support directly from earnings prior to distributing the paycheck. The employer must forward all child support payments to the Office of the Attorney General's Disbursement Unit.

Child support continues until the child reaches the age of 18 and graduates from high school. There are no provisions in the Texas Family Code requiring child support payments through college. However, if a child is disabled, support may be ordered to continue beyond the age of 18.

As this is merely an overview of child support in Texas and is not intended to be a substitute for legal advice, contact us to discuss your specific situation and for more information on Texas laws that apply to you.