While Texas courts have guidelines in place for determining child support amounts, there are several factors that are considered. In general, the custodial parent is entitled to receive child support payments from the non-custodial parent to help support the child or children they share.
In addition to net income from work (the income after taxes, FICA and Medicare are taken out), courts look at several things. Courts consider income from all sources for the non-custodial parent. This includes self-employment, disability or workers’ compensation benefits, pensions and the rest. If a court believes a noncustodial parent is voluntarily unemployed or underemployed, courts will determine what the person’s potential earnings should be when setting the amount.
Child support is then ordered at 20 percent of net monthly income for one shared child, 25 percent for two and so on, increasing by 5 percent increments. Courts will consider how many children the noncustodial parent is ordered to support. Taking all children and payments together, the total amount a person pays in child support cannot exceed 50 percent of their monthly income.
As a legal court order, child support orders must be abided by or the person risks being found in contempt of court. If a noncustodial parent’s financial circumstances have changed significantly, it is best for them to continue making payments. They should file a modification motion to try to change the amount of child support instead of just failing to pay and falling behind. People who find themselves in this situation, or people who are owed child support but not receiving payments, may wish to consult with a family law attorney for assistance with filing motions with the court. An attorney may be able to help either change the child support amount or to get a contempt hearing.
Source: State Bar of Texas, “Pro Se Divorce Handbook“, October 21, 2014