Meeting your children’s financial needs
Food, clothing, toys and school books – raising a child comes with many different expenses. And during a divorce, key decisions have to be made about how such costs will be met in the future.
In any lawsuit involving a minor child, it must be decided how the child will be supported financially. The Texas Family Code includes a standardized calculation for determining Child Support payments – but in many cases, this guideline amount isn’t realistic.
Strategies suited to your family
At GoransonBain Ausley, we understand that no two families are the same – and that your children’s financial needs are unique. So we work with you to find the right strategy for determining Child Support. Whether that’s simply following the traditional guidelines or taking an approach that’s specifically tailored to your family.
Texas Child Support Guidelines
There are few family law issues more emotionally charged than the question of how much money the non-custodial parent should pay for the support of his or her child. At GoransonBain Ausley, our lawyers know Texas law regarding child support, and advocate tirelessly for the outcome that is in the best interests of both our client and our client’s child.
While it is almost universally viewed as a responsibility and an obligation, determining an appropriate amount of financial support often leads to disputes. This is especially true for parents with higher incomes or significant estates.
How is Income Calculated?
Income for purposes of child support calculations includes 100 percent of wage and salary income, commissions, overtime pay, tips, bonuses, profit-sharing, interest, dividends, royalty income, self-employment income, and net rental income. A good family law attorney will point out that benefits also constitute income: retirement benefits, pension benefits, social security and unemployment benefits, etc. All income being received is taken into consideration for purposes of calculating child support.
If the non-custodial parent’s net monthly income is less than $8,500, then the following guidelines for child support payments apply:
- One child: 20% of net monthly income;
- Two children: 25% of net monthly income;
- Three children: 30% of net monthly income;
- Four children: 35% of net monthly income;
- Five children: 40% of net monthly income; or
- Six or more children: not less than 40% of net monthly income.
The above structure is only a presumptive guideline for child support calculation; it does not necessarily mandate a certain award. For instance, if the court believes that the non-custodial parent is not earning what he or she could, then the court can base child support on the earning potential of the non-custodial spouse. Also, parties can reach agreement on a child support amount that differs from the guidelines. If the court finds that the agreement is in the best interests of the child, the court will sign an order based on the agreement. If not, the court will ask the parties to submit a revised agreement.
Deviating from the Texas Child Support Guidelines
The court’s main consideration is the best interest of the child. The court bases its decisions to order less or more child support than the guidelines, consistent with the children’s bests interests, based upon evidence of several factors, including:
- Children’s ages and needs
- Parents’ financial resources and ability to pay
- Amount of time the children spend in each parent’s care
- Physical custody and conservatorship of the children
- If a parent is intentionally under or unemployed
- Childcare expenses incident to a job
- Spousal support receipt or obligations
- Children’s college education and post-secondary school expenses
- Housing, motor vehicle and other benefits supplied by a third party
- Other income deductions and other expenses paid by an employer
- Health insurance premiums, deductibles and unpaid medical expenses
- Special educational, health or other issues that affect a child or a parent
- Travel expenses associated with possession of and access to the children
- Negative or positive cash flow that affects either parent’s liquidity
- Parents’ debts
- Any reason involving the parents’ circumstances that remains in the children’s best interests
GoransonBain Ausley lawyers focus on identifying the financial needs of the child and then advocating from a “best interest of the child” perspective both in and out of the courtroom. In addition, our lawyers have an extensive background handling enforcement and modification issues.
Contact a Child Support Lawyer
If you would like to learn more about child support and what support you may be required to pay or entitled to receive, call one of our three office locations: Dallas, Plano and Austin or fill out the consultation form today.