Child Support In Texas
To determine the amount of child support payments, most states use extremely complex formulas which account for many different factors. But Texas is a percentage-of-income state. Typically, the only factors that make up this formula are the number of children before the court and the obligor’s income.
This formula is much easier to use than a formula that has multiple components that are subject to frequent legislator modifications. Additionally, because the percentage-of-income formula is so simple, there are a number of other factors that the judge may consider, as outlined below.
The guideline amount is presumptively reasonable in most cases. But there is no such thing as a one-size-fits-all family law order. To overturn the presumptive amount, a Dallas child support attorney must first establish that the presumptive amount is unreasonably high or unreasonably low.
Then, an attorney may highlight extra-formulaic factors that result in a reasonable amount of child support. In any respect, child support must give the children the same standard of living they would have had if their parents had remained married.
Most parents know all too well that the child’s age has a significant bearing on the cost of raising the child. Very young children usually either require expensive daycare or full-time attention from a stay-at-home parent. Older teenagers are usually very expensive as well. For example, these children are often involved in expensive extracurricular activities.
These facts and circumstances might or might not support a greater amount of child support. For example, in terms of extracurricular activities, the child’s needs come into play. Becky might want to go to an expensive summer camp, but a less-expensive summer camp might better suit her needs.
Furthermore, judges almost never use a child’s young age to lower a child support obligation. If Dad pays a little extra while the children are young, the extra payments build up a reserve for when the children are older, at least theoretically.
Income of Both Parents
The percentage-of-income formula works very well in most cases. However, it sometimes creates unfair results. Assume Mother, who is the residential custodian, earns $200,000 a year as a corporate CEO. Father, the non-residential custodian, earns $25,000 a year as a fast-food cashier. The guidelines would probably require Father to pay child support. However, that result is probably not appropriate in that situation.
The presumption of reasonableness is very strong. So, to justify a deviation, the income disparity must be almost that extreme. Furthermore, good faith income rules often come into play. Obligors cannot quit high-paying jobs to reduce their child support obligations.
Parenting Time Division
In terms of the parenting time division, the standard formula assumes that the parenting plan is an every-other-weekend and every-other-holiday traditional arrangement. This division results in about a 70-30 time split.
Many families opt for a distribution that brings the division closer to 50-50. Examples include block scheduling and extended weekends. Block scheduling usually alternates time two weeks with Parent A and two weeks with Parent B. Extended weekend visitation starts weekends on Thursday and ends on Monday.
The opposite is sometimes true as well. In some cases, parent-child contact is limited, mostly due to:
- Excessive distance
- A child’s young age or inability to travel
- A parent’s physical, emotional, mental, or other disability
In either case, a judge could adjust the amount of child support to accurately reflect the timeshare division.
Many other factors could apply as well. They include college education costs, the amount of spousal maintenance, a child’s special needs, and the divorce property division. All these factors usually prompt the judge to tweak the guideline amount. However, the judge could also throw out the guidelines and start anew.
Work with a Dedicated Dallas Child Support Attorney
Child support awards are not set in stone. For a confidential consultation with an experienced child support attorney in Dallas, contact Orsinger, Nelson, Downing & Anderson, LLP by calling (214) 273-2400. Our law firm has more Super Lawyers than any other legal organization in Texas.