There are many formulas used to calculate child support throughout the United States. Some states use an income shared model, which factors in the income of both parents. Others states use a percentage of income model, which only looks at the income of the non-custodial parent. This article will focus on percentage of income method, since that is the model used in Texas.
The first step of understanding how child support works is to know that fundamentally it comes down to a very basic formula. The calculations can get complicated, however, since this formula adjusts in many small ways to account for your specific circumstance. In many cases, the judge can even change the formula at his/her discretion to fit your case’s specific needs.
The Basic Formula for How to Calculate Child Support
In Texas, child support does not look at the total income of the two parents; it only looks at the income of the parent who does not regularly live with the child. Here is a look at the formula in its most basic form.
1 child = 20 percent of the parent’s net resources
2 children = 25 percent of the parent’s net resources
3 children = 30 percent of the parent’s net resources
4 children = 35 percent of the parent’s net resources
5 children = 40 percent of the parent’s net resources
6+ children = at least as much as for 5 children
Once again, this model can be affected by factors such as the degree of joint custody, the income level of the parent and even the discretion of the court. If you want to take a rough look at your own numbers, there are plenty of child support calculators available online.
Is Your Child Support Fair?
Even though the foundational formula for child support is relatively simple, over time these payments can be quite complicated. A noncustodial parent can challenge child support payments based on many factors, including all of the following:
- The time children spend with each of the parents
- Debts and other financial burdens
- Workplace benefits of either parent
- Educational or healthcare expenses
- Alimony payments
This is by no means a complete list, and although the basic formula is very simple, the decision process of how to reach a final number can be rather complicated. Understanding child support and ensuring that the agreement is fair and proper can be a stressful experience. If you suspect that your child support payments might not be fair, you should seek the counsel of an attorney.
Julian, Crowder & Shuster is a Lewisville divorce law firm. We also bankruptcy law and criminal defense.