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How child support is established in Texas

The state of Texas has statutory guidelines for judges to follow when setting child support amounts during divorce proceedings. Courts can deviate from the guidelines in the event they make a written finding that such a deviation, either above the guideline amount or below it, is in the child's best interests. In most cases, however, noncustodial parents should expect their child support obligation will follow the guideline amount.

In setting child support, courts consider almost all of the types of income that the noncustodial parent has. Included income is defined broadly to include self-employment income, wages and salary to include overtime and bonuses, dividends, royalty and interest income and any other type of income the person might receive, such as unemployment compensation, workers' compensation or other payment forms.

If the parents share only one child and there are no other children the noncustodial parent supports, child support will be set at 20 percent of the obligor's net income. Each additional child will result in increases of 5 percent up to a total of 50 percent of income. Courts are not allowed to set child support in amounts in excess of 50 percent of the noncustodial parent's monthly income. A noncustodial parent will usually be required to pay for the children's health insurance, and both parents may be required to split medical costs that are not covered by insurance.

The state believes, as a matter of public policy, that all parents should be responsible for helping to support their children. Once a child support order is issued, the parent may not stop paying without requesting a modification to the order. Child support cannot be withheld for such things as the custodial parent's refusal to allow the child to see the noncustodial parent. In those situations, the noncustodial parent should continue paying but bring the custody matter back before the court.

Source: State Bar of Texas, "Pro Se Divorce Handbook", accessed on Jan. 26, 2015

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