Typically, Texas courts calculate child support by applying a flat percentage rate to the noncustodial parent's income. Although a consistent calculation would make going to court more predictable, courts in Texas will consider the overall situation before finalizing a child support order. Courts may adjust the initial calculation, particularly if caring for the child involves extraordinary expenses or the noncustodial parent has a greater than average income.
Child Support Overview
Texas law differs from the majority of states in how it calculates child support. The state uses the percentage of obligor's income model, meaning only the noncustodial parent's income is considered when calculating support; the income of the custodial parent is irrelevant to the initial calculation. If parents equally share custody, courts in Texas may not order child support at all. Overall, the court will apply a flat percentage to the noncustodial parent's income, but may adjust the amount based on the needs of the child and resources of the parents.
Income and Number of Children
To calculate child support, Texas courts will consider all the financial resources of the noncustodial parent, including salary, unemployment benefits, rental income and income from any other sources. The court will deduct certain expenses from the income, including union dues, taxes and payments made for the child's health insurance. Further, if the obligor is voluntarily unemployed or underemployed, the court may calculate income as if he were working full-time. Once the income is determined, the court will apply a percentage based on the number of children of the relationship. For one child, child support will be 20 percent of the obligor's income, followed by 25 percent for two children, 30 percent for three children, 40 percent for five children, and not less than 40 percent for six or more children.
Courts in Texas may adjust the child support obligation if the facts of the particular case demonstrate that the initial calculation would be unfair or inappropriate. To make this determination, the court will consider a number of factors, including the obligor's ability to pay, financial resources and earning potential of the custodial parent, and additional expenses for the child's health or education. Further, the court will consider if the obligor is paying alimony to the custodial parent or supporting other children from a different relationship.
Income Over $7,500
If the noncustodial parent's income is over $7,500 a month, the court will only apply the basic calculation to the first $7,500. To determine if additional support is warranted, the court will consider the needs of the child. If the child's needs are met without additional support, the obligor will only pay the initial percentage applied to the first $7,500 of his income. However, the court may order additional support based on the overall circumstances of the case, including the proven needs of the child and resources of each parent.