How is child support calculated? Child support is calculated based upon a percentage of the Obligor’s net monthly resources.
The Obligor is the parent who pays the child support. The Obligee is the parent who receives the child support. Net monthly resources are the Obligor's gross monthly income minus the things that are required to be subtracted from it by the Texas Family Code (called "TFC" herein) using the Attorney General child support chart.
The Obligor's net monthly resources are multiplied by a percentage to determine his or her monthly child support obligation. The percentage used takes into consideration how many children the Obligor has, and where they live.
How the Child Support Percentage is Determined
TFC Section 154.125, Child Support Guidelines are represented in Table A. Table A provides the percentage that will be multiplied times the Obligor’s net monthly resources to determine his or child support. The percentage is based on the number of the Obligor's children who live with the Obligee. If the Obligor does not have any other children that he/she has a legal duty to support, the percentage from Table A will be used. (Obligor's net monthly resources x percentage = $monthly child support).
If an Obligor has children in more than one household, TFC Section 154.129 gives him/her a small reduction in the percentage that will be used to set their monthly child support as described in Table B below.
Table A. Guideline Support for Children in One Household
|# of Obligor's Children||% of Obligor's Resources|
|6+||Not less than 40%|
Table B shows how child support is calculated when the Obligor has children in multiple households. The column on the far left side of Table B lists the number of Obligor’s children who are not part of the case before the Court. The numbers on the row on the top portion of Table B are the number of Obligor’s children who are part of the case before the Court. Where the two lines intersect is the percentage that will be applied to the Obligor's net monthly resources for the child(ren) in the case before the Court.
For example, if the Obligor has two children who are not part of this case, you would take your finger down the left column of the Table until you reach the number “2”. If the Obligor has one child who is part of this case, you will drag your finger across the top row to the right until you are at the number one, for one child before the Court. Where those two lines intersect is “16.0”. This means that the Obligor’s guideline child support for this one child would be 16% of the Obligor’s net monthly resources.
Table B. Guideline Child Support for Children in Multiple Households
|Number of Children Before the Court in this Case|
|Obligor's Other Children|
Gross (before tax) yearly resources are defined in TFC Section 154.062. Gross resources include all wage and salary income and compensation. It includes overtime, interest, dividends, rental income, severance, retirement, trust income, pensions, and most social security, and U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs non-service related disability payments.
Gross yearly resources do not include:
- Supplemental social security income
- U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs service-related disability payments
- Return of principal or capital
- Temporary assistance for needy families
- Payments for foster care
The Family Code provides that once the Obligor’s yearly Gross Resources are determined, the Court shall deduct the following items to determine yearly Net Resources:
- Federal and state income tax
- Social security taxes
- Yearly union dues
- The cost of health and dental insurance for the child for a year
- Nondiscretionary retirement plans
The Obligor must present evidence of union dues' cost, the child’s insurance, and nondiscretionary retirement to have those amounts deducted from the yearly gross resources.
The Obligor’s gross yearly resources are divided by 12 months to get a monthly gross resource amount.
Once gross yearly resources are divided by 12 to determine gross monthly resources, that number needs to be converted to net monthly resources using the Texas Attorney General’s Tax Chart for Child Support. To use the chart, find a number equal to the Obligor's gross monthly resources on the far left hand side of the chart. Then draw a line all the way to the right hand side of the chart to find the Obligor's net monthly resources. The chart automatically deducts federal and state social security taxes to determine the Obligor’s net monthly resources. This net monthly resources amount is what is multiplied by the percentage from Tables A and/or B.
The Texas Attorney General also has developed interactive charts on their website that you can use to calculate monthly child support.
The presumption in the Texas Family Code is that child support should be capped at a level where the Obligor’s net monthly resources are $9,200 or above, as of 2021. [Note, this amount is adjusted upward by the Texas legislature periodically]. It is possible to rebut the presumption that capping the child support at that amount is in the best interest of the child. Reasons for awarding more child support may include child care expenses incurred to maintain gainful employment, special or extraordinary educational, healthcare, or other expenses of the child. See TFC Section 154.123.
If the Obligor is unemployed, the Court has options in setting child support. One option is to presume that the Obligor can make at least minimum wage, which is $7.25 per hour, $1,256.67 per month gross, at the time of posting. See TFC Section 154.068. Another option arises if the Court deems that an Obligor is intentionally unemployed or underemployed. Under those circumstances, the Court may apply child support guidelines based upon the earning potential of the Obligor. See TFC Section 154.066. The Court may also assign a reasonable amount of deemed income attributable to the Obligor's assets that are not currently producing income, to set child support. See TFC Section 154.067.
When an initial Suit Affecting the Parent-Child Relationship ("SAPCR") is filed, the party who has had possession of the child may request retroactive or back child support. See TFC Section 154.009 and 154.131. If back support is awarded, the Court is to consider the net resources of the Obligor during the relevant time period. There is a rebuttable presumption that the amount of back child support should not exceed four years preceding the date the petition was filed. The petition must be filed not later than the fourth anniversary of the child’s 18th birthday.
The guidelines for child support are based on the assumption that the Obligor will provide medical and dental heath insurance for the child in addition to child support. See TFC Section 154.064. The Court is to inquire as to whether the child has private health insurance in effect, and if not, whether the child is covered by Medicaid, C.H.I.P., and whether either parent has access to private health insurance at a reasonable cost.
Health insurance is deemed to available at a reasonable cost if the cost does not exceed 9% of the Obligor’s annual resources. See Section TFC 154.181 (e). Dental insurance is deemed to be available at a reasonable cost if the premium does not exceed 1.5 percent of the Obligor’s annual resources. See TFC Section 154.1815.
If the Obligor fails to pay for health or dental insurance as required, the Court may order that they be 100% liable for any of the child’s medical or dental expenses regardless of whether the expense would have been covered by insurance. See TFC Section 154.188.
Child support will continue until the first of one of the following events:
- The child turns 18 or graduates from high school, whichever happens later
- The child becomes emancipated
- The child dies
- The parent’s rights have been terminated, or
- The date on which the child begins active service in the U.S. Armed Forces.
See TFC Section 154.001-2, 6.
Most Texas child support orders have the child support payments made through the Texas State Disbursement Unit at P. O. Box 659791 San Antonio, TX 78265-9791.
The Court may order either or both parents to pay support for a disabled child for an indefinite period beyond their 18th birthday. See TFC 154.302 and 154.306. The payment place may vary and could include payment directly to the disabled child or to a special needs trust.