If you are divorcing or separating from the parent of your child, child support in Texas and the laws surrounding it might apply to you. In Texas, there is a rebuttable presumption that child support is in the best interest of the child. Courts generally feel very comfortable ordering child support, and there are very few cases in which they will feel comfortable not ordering child support of some kind. 

In Texas, there is something called guideline child support, which is ordered in conjunction with a standard possession or expanded standard possession order. With these types of possession orders, one parent is designated the primary conservator, with whom the child with primarily live, and the other parent is designated the possessory conservator, which is the parent who will exercise visitation through the week. The possessory parent is usually the parent that is ordered to pay child support, while the primary parent is usually the parent that receives child support.  

Guideline Child Support 

Guideline child support is a calculation that is based on the possessory conservators monthly net resources and the amount of children that are in front of the court. As with most things in Family Law, there can be variations to this calculation, but generally the formulas are as follows:

  • If you have one child, child support is 20 percent of an obligor’s monthly net resources. 
  • If you have two children, child support is 25 percent of an obligor’s monthly net resources. 
  • If you have three children, child support is 30 percent of an obligor’s monthly net resources. 
  • If you have four children, child support is 35 percent of an obligor’s monthly net resources. 
  • If you have five children, child support is 40 percent of an obligor’s monthly net resources. 
  • If you have six children or more children, child support can be more than 40 percent, but is usually not less than 40 percent. 

Variations in Visitation Schedules and Child Support 

There is a common myth among clients that a 50/50 visitation schedule means that no child support will be owed by either party. If there is a 50/50 possession schedule, child support is still likely to be ordered.  Usually, the court will look at the needs of the child and the parties and determine a child support amount that is appropriate given the needs and facts of the case. The amount could be based on the guideline child support calculates listed above, or there could be a variation from that calculation. 

Changing Child Support 

Once a court orders child support, that amount is going to be set until either the child ages out or until there is a modification of that court order that either increases or decreases the child support amount owed each month. A child “aging out,” generally means that the child has turned 18 or has graduated from high school, whichever one is later. There can be exceptions to this rule if the child is disabled. And if you need to modify a child support order due to and obligor’s job loss, decrease in pay, or increase in pay, you will need to go to the court and acquire a formal court order changing the child support amount. The State of Texas generally does not recognize informal agreements for child support between parties and may try to collect for child support payments not made timely or in paid in full.