Common Misconceptions about Child Support in Texas
Good morning, I’m Marivonne Essex and I’m the Red Headed Lawyer, and I’d like to talk to you today about some common misconceptions that people have about divorce, and children in Texas. One of the most common misconceptions is how child support is calculated in Texas. People frequently come in to me and say, “Oh we’ve already agreed on the child support. We calculated it. We know what it is” and it is my job to make sure they understand what the process is and to determine if the amount that they came up with is really the amount that would be calculated according to Texas law. People use the internet, they will go on the internet and they’ll say, “We’ll I looked and it’s 20% if you have one child, and I’ve already figured that out”. So today what I would like to tell you is how that process works so you will not get misled by what you see on the internet, or when you try to calculate it on your own. Child support in Texas is according to a formula. Except in very, very unusual circumstances, no matter what judge you are standing in front of in Texas, or any other person making a legal determination in Texas, the calculation is going to be done the same way. What you have to start with is, you have to start with the chart that the attorney general of Texas puts out each year. There’s a chart that they put out, and that’s easily accessible on the internet. To find the chart is not the problem. It’s easy to find the chart. But you start with the chart. So you’ve got the chart in front of you, and it tells you what a person, if a person’s gross income is this amount of money, what will be deducted, and then what will the net amount be for child support purposes. So you have the chart in front of you. The next thing that you do is you calculate the average monthly earnings before anything is taken out of the person who will be paying child support. For example, let’s say the person makes $2,000 a month before anything is taken out, no taxes, no amount for retirement, nothing. You start with $2,000. So you have the chart in front of you, and on the left you will see, you will find the figure gross income $2,000, then you will see the other amounts as you follow along to the right of the chart an amount is deducted for Medicare, an amount is deducted for withholding, an amount is deducted for social security taxes. It doesn’t matter what is actually taken out of the paycheck. Those are the amounts that the state of Texas allows a person to deduct who is paying child support. Then you come up with a net income for child support purposes. The net income then … the next thing that is deducted is, if a person is providing health insurance for children, you then deduct that amount from the net income. Then what you have is a net income for child support purposes, and then that is when you apply the percentage. If the person is paying for one child, it’s 20%, if they are paying for two children, it’s 25%, and it goes up from there. Also, calculations must include if a person is court obligated to pay child support for any children of any other relationship. So as you can see, the formula can be more complicated than it seems, and it is very important to have a knowledgeable person, a lawyer to guide you through this process so that whether you are paying or receiving, you are sure you are using the calculations correctly to come up with the right amount. In my law office we go over that with you. We are happy to discuss that with you. We want to be sure that any decision you’re making is made using the right information.