Child Support in Texas is driven by a formula promulgated by the Texas Legislature, and it is found in Chapter 154 of the Texas Family Code. Whether a parent is the custodial parent (e.g., primary joint managing conservator or sole managing conservator) or the non-custodial parent, child support is of great concern because both parents are planning their budget based on receiving or paying child support.
Child Support is figured based on the obligor’s net monthly resources, which is defined specifically by statute. Once the obligor’s monthly net resources are determined, the statutory child support guidelines are applied. Basically, the court looks to the obligor’s net monthly resources up to the first $7,500.00 per month. Based on the net resources, a multiplier is applied based upon the number of children before the court and based upon the numbers of other children the obligor has who are not before the court. For example, an obligor may have two children with his/her current spouse or partner, and have children from a previous marriage or relationship. The Texas Attorney General’s Child Support Division has very useful online tools that can assist parents in determining what a the parent’s child support obligation may be.
While Texas child support is formulaic, there are instances where it is appropriate to seek a reduction in support, a modification of support, or to even seek support over and above the guidelines.
In addition to the monthly child support, there is also medical support for the provision of healthcare services for the minor child. The obligor parent may either provide insurance for the child through his/her employer, private insurance, or through programs such as CHIP or Medicaid. Alternatively, the custodial parent may provide insurance through his/her employer and seek reimbursement for those premiums from the obligor.
When meeting with your attorney, it is essential to honestly and accurately identify your income from all sources in order to calculate support. If you fail to provide all income information, you can bet that the other side will bring it up at hearing thereby making it an issue before the Court.
Many parents ask us whether the court will approve an order where neither parent pays child support. Each judge is different, but you can generally rely on the fact that the judge will not permit the parties to waive child support because it is not in the child’s best interest, and the Texas Family Code requires support.
Nonpayment of child support obligations has very serious consequences. Either the custodial parent’s attorney or the Texas Attorney General Child Support Enforcement Division may file a motion to enforce, and may seek to do so by contempt of court. Penalties for failure to timely pay child support include accruing interest, loss of professional licenses, loss of one’s driver’s license, diversion of tax refunds, interception of prize winnings, and even jail time.