What is Guideline Child Support?
Guidelines determine the amount of child support that will be paid in almost every Texas divorce. Courts use the guidelines issued by the Texas Attorney General's Office, Child Support Division. Variations from the guideline amount are rare. When the obligor (person who pays support) has 2 children, guideline support is 25% of the obligor's net income. The obligor is the person who will be paying the support. The net income is determined by a chart issued by the Attorney General of Texas, Child Support Division, using the monthly gross and subtracting Social Security, Medicare and federal income tax for a single person with one exemption. The cost of supplying health insurance for the children will be deducted from net resources prior to application of the appropriate percentage. The chart is available at the Attorney General's web site. Please see the links page of this site for a link to the AG site.
Are bonuses included in gross income when child support is calculated?
Yes. Money the obligor receives from any source, including bonuses and dividends from investments, is included as income. Even if one received a bonus last year and may not receive it this year, the court will often use the prior year's W-2 and Federal Income Tax Return to determine the child support amount.
If I am paying child support on 2 children and the first child graduates from high school and is 18, will my child support amount stay the same or decrease?
If your order establishing child support states that your obligation decreases when one child reaches 18, and states the stepped-down amount for the child support, then your child support will decrease to the stated amount. That decrease must also be stated in your wage withholding order which is issued at the time the child support order is put in place. Be sure that your order is written to include the step-down at the time of the divorce or finalization of any order providing for child support.
What is the interest rate charged on unpaid or late child support payments?
Six per cent.
Where are child support payments made?
Tarrant County requires that all child support payments be made through the State Disbursement Unit in San Antonio, Texas.
Does the person paying the support have any say in how the money gets spent?
No. The person receiving the support has no obligation to account to the person paying regarding how the money gets spent. It may be used for any purpose.
May a person who is behind on child support still visit with the children?
Yes. The two issues, child support and visitation, are entirely separate according to the law. A parent may not withhold the children because the child support is not being paid. Likewise, a parent may not withhold child support because the possession order is not followed.
If the paying party's salary increases, does the child support increase?
The child support amount does not increase or decrease automatically. The amount of child support only changes when a court modifies the order. If one would like to have the amount increased, the only way to do that is by filing a motion to modify with the court. The modification will only be granted if the new income amount is proved.
If the paying party loses his or her job, does the child support decrease?
No. See the answer to the previous question, which applies in this circumstance as well. The key point to remember is that if you want the child support amount to change, you must do that through the court.