During the pendency of a divorce proceeding, if the parties have children, the issue of child support will arise. Absent certain unique situations, Texas Courts will calculate a child support obligation solely based upon the net income of the parent ordered to pay child support, known as an obligor.
Calculating the net income
When determining a party’s net income, Texas Family Code § 154.062 requires the analysis to begin with the gross income. This includes salary, commissions, overtime pay, tips, bonuses, retirement income, disability income, etc.—essentially any form of income. Once there is a calculation of the gross income, the following will be deducted from that sum:
- Social Security Taxes (of if the parent does not pay Social Security taxes, any mandatory retirement plan contributions);
- Federal Income Taxes;
- Union Dues; and,
- Health Insurance Premiums and Expenses for the children.
After these deductions, you are left with a parent’s annual net income, and when divided by 12, you are able to calculate a parent’s monthly net income. To assist in this calculation, the Texas Attorney General publishes annual Tax Charts and child support calculator. While these resources are useful, they may not show the actual net resources and child support available; therefore, it is important to always perform a manual calculation.
Calculating the amount of child support
Now that a party’s net monthly resources have been calculated, the amount of child support can be determined. Pursuant to Texas Family Code § 154.125(b), child support is calculated as follows:
- 1 Child 20% of obligor’s net resources
- 2 Children 25% of obligor’s net resources
- 3 Children 30% of obligor’s net resources
- 4 Children 35% of obligor’s net resources
- 5 Children 40% of obligor’s net resources
- 6+ Children Not less than the amount for 5 children
These percentages decrease if the obligor is required to pay child support for another parent for other children.
Not always so simple
While the law attempts to simplify this issue, there are often situations where a parent believes either the guideline support calculation is too high or too low. When requesting an adjustment of the guideline support calculation, the party requesting the deviation must present evidence that the guideline statutory calculation is unjust or inappropriate. See Texas Family Code § 154.123(b)(1-17).
Seemingly straightforward, calculating child support accurately can be difficult. It requires one to obtain pay information from the obligor and ensuring the proper deductions are made therefrom. In the context of a military divorce, this calculation can become even more complicated, as there is certain pay which is not subject to federal income tax. Given these complexities, it is important to engage a lawyer to assist you in this process, as even a small mistake can be costly. For example, if child support is miscalculated by $50 per month, when extrapolated out, that totals $600.00 per year—no small sum.
We can help
The lawyers at the Ted Smith Law Group are familiar with the needs of families in Killeen, Harker Heights, Temple, Copperas Cove, and the surrounding counties—especially those of military families. We are well-equipped to guide you through the divorce, custody, and child support process. To better understand how we can help, contact us today for your free initial consultation with one of our lawyers.
With strength and integrity, we stand ready to help you.
A native of Fort Hood, Texas, Raymond L. Panneton has built a national practice with deep Texas roots. Raymond is the Managing Attorney of the Ted Smith Law Group. He focuses on Personal Injury and Business Law.
For more information about Raymond, please read his full biography here