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Guidelines determine child support payments

Texas courts use a mathematical formula to determine the child support amount that a non-custodial parent is required to pay monthly. The calculations are based on that parent's net income, which includes wages in addition to self-employment income, royalties and even workers' compensation payments. The state does not consider welfare payments to be part of the parent's net income, and certain expenses, such as income tax, are deducted from the parent's resources prior to child support calculations.

If the non-custodial parent earns less than $7,500 monthly, the state will likely have the parent pay 20 percent of his or her income to support one child. That support amount increases by 5 percent for each additional child up to 40 percent of that parent's net income. If each parent has custody of one or more of their children, the state will calculate child support differently. If the non-custodial parent already has a child support payment to a child from another relationship, the 20 percent obligation may be reduced.

Other circumstances may also reduce a non-custodial parent's child support obligation, such as a job loss or suffering a disabling injury. If a child is disabled and receiving government benefits, the non-custodial might pay a reduced amount of support. Either parent can request a modification every three years if the amount of child support would change significantly.

Child support payments continue until the later of the child reaching the age of 18 or graduating from high school, but it can end earlier for an emancipated or married child, or it could end later for a disabled child. A family law attorney could provide more information on the potential calculation and duration of child support payments. The attorney could also request a modification on behalf of one of the parents.

Source: Legal Aid of NorthWest Texas, "Child Support Calculations ", September 10, 2014

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