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How child support is established in Texas

In order to make child support orders more uniform throughout the state, statutory guidelines are used by Texas courts in determining child support amounts. Judges are able to deviate from the guidelines if doing so is in the best interests of the child, but in such an event, the court has to detail its reasons in a written ruling.

The state believes all parents have the responsibility of financially supporting their children. The custodial parent will generally be owed child support from the noncustodial parent. The guidelines set the amount at 20 percent if there is only one child, with the amounts increasing in increments of five percent for each additional child. In no case will the court order child support in amounts greater than 50 percent of the noncustodial parent's income, however.

The income used to establish the child support amount includes all salary and wage income, self-employment income, interest, royalty and dividends income, net rental income and all other income types. When the court chooses to deviate from the guidelines, the court will do so after considering the age and needs of the child, any extraordinary medical or educational expenses the child might have, child care costs, the cost of travel for the noncustodial parent to visit the child and other matters. The court may order any of these categories as additional amounts above the child support guideline amounts.

The child support guidelines can help parents understand the amounts they are likely to be ordered to pay or the amounts they are likely to receive. It is important for the paying parent to continue paying the obligation as ordered. In the event a substantial and material change in circumstances later occurs, the noncustodial parent can file a modification motion but must continue paying as ordered until it is granted.

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

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