Child support in Texas is generally determined by a guideline formula established by the Texas Family Code. Texas ranks in the bottom one third of the United States in terms of the amount of child support required by law. While this is beneficial to the parent paying child support, it is often not helpful to the parent receiving child support.
The income of the parent who is paying is calculated by combining income from all sources and deducting taxes and other payments to arrive at a net figure. The law establishes support according to the following percentages: 20% of net income for one child, 25% for two, 30% for three and 35% for four or more children. These percentages will be offset by support that may be required for any children resulting from a union other than this particular marriage or relationship. The current ceiling of net income used in calculating support is $8550/month. No matter how much income the parent paying child support earns above that figure, legally required child support is not increased.
Despite this legal cap to child support, an increased level of support may be negotiated, or even ordered by the court, based on the needs of your child. Your child may have a special skill or talent, which necessitates expensive advanced training, travel to competitions, and/or unique study opportunities. Examples might include a child who is gifted in sports, music, horsemanship, or an advanced academic field. A child who has been customarily enrolled in private school may also warrant above-guideline child support.
Your child may, on the other hand, have a health condition, disability or special needs, which require specialized medical care, daycare and/or schooling. A judge may order above-guideline child support in these instances. However, receiving such support, or protecting yourself from having to pay such increased support, requires skilled advocacy.
Many parents recognize their children’s economic needs and accordingly negotiate above-guideline child support, support paid through a trust, or additional forms of support, such as funding the child’s private school, summer camps, bar and bat mitzvahs and other special circumstances. A judge is permitted under the law to approve such an agreement even if the court could not otherwise order it. As in every other aspect of a suit affecting the parent-child relationship, you will benefit from having the most experienced, astute and committed attorneys representing you.