Calculating Child Support
The one paying says its too much and the one receiving thinks its too little. Child support amounts seem to make both sides unhappy. However, until the Family Code is amended again, the way it is figured will remain about the same.
Texas Family Code Section 154.122 states that an order of support conforming to the guidelines is presumed to be in the best interest of the child. Many courts, therefore, simply order ‘guideline support'. How is that amount determined? Read on.
First-Income Information-both Annual and Weekly/Monthly: It is required that the parties in a divorce or any suit affecting the parent child relationship will come forward with information about their income. This is to assist in determining the amount of support, among other things. What types of documents and information? At minimum, last two years of tax returns, last few weeks of paystubs. This gives both the bigger picture and the more specific picture. I will usually look at the smaller increments (paystubs) and review that against the bigger picture of a W-2. The object is to get a clear picture of what the obligor (paying person) is making on a yearly basis.
Second-Calculate Net Monthly Figure: Once a gross yearly figure is determined, and that same amount is divided by 12 to determine a monthly gross figure, the next step is to subtract several items to determine net monthly income (social security taxes, federal income taxes, union dues, and health insurance cost for the minor children) The easiest way to determine what amounts are subtracted is to use the ‘tax charts' of the Office of the Attorney General, which charts are required to be prepared on a yearly basis (see Texas Family Code 154.061)
Third-multiply times the appropriate percent: At this point, with the net monthly income determined, it is simple multiplication to calculate the guideline monthly support. By what amount? How many children does the obligor have to support who are part of the current case? If there is only one, the guideline support is 20% of net (unless very low income obligor) The statute to look at is Texas Family Code 154.125. If the obligor has other children to support, the percentage will be a smaller one—see Tex Fam Code 154.129.
Note that this is a very cursory treatment!!! The actual final child support can be very much more involved, including issues of unemployment or underemployment, as well as a list of 17 reasons to not follow the guidelines, depending on the evidence in a hearing or trial (see Tex. Fam. Code 154.123)
Hopefully some of the above is helpful; if it has only raised questions without resolution, I am happy to try to resolve them. Call my office-281-970-8555- and I can at least give you an idea of what child support might be for you to receive or pay, depending on your circumstances. This is especially helpful if you are concerned about a hearing with the Office of the Attorney General. A little knowledge can help you not pay more than is fair for you, nor given less than you and your child are worth.