Child support is a legal duty for every parent in Texas. This applies to both custodial and non-custodial parents.
The custodial parent is the parent with the right to establish the child’s residency and, by doing so, is deemed to be supporting the child by tending to everyday expenses involving meals, transportation, hygiene and so forth. Although non-custodial parents also pay everyday expenses during periods of possession, the non-custodial parent discharges their duty of support by paying court-ordered child support.
The amount to be paid monthly, or more frequently, by the non-custodial parent is calculated by applying a percentage to the net available resources (NAR) of the non-custodial parent and calculating a monthly amount. NAR is generally gross income less withholding taxes based on one dependent. The Attorney General’s office publishes charts every year from which one may calculate the mandated amount.
For instance, in 2015, a person grossing $5,000.00 per month is deemed to have NAR of $3,932.60 according to the Attorney General’s chart. The child support percentage is twenty percent (20%) for one child, twenty-five percent (25%) for two children, thirty percent (30%) for three children and thirty-five percent (35%) for four or more. This would result in the non-custodial parent paying child support of $786.52 per month for one child, $983.15 per month for two children, and so forth.
Child support continues until the youngest child graduates from high school or turns eighteen, whichever is later. In multi-child families, child support is also reduced to the next lower percent as each older child turns eighteen or graduates from high school, whichever is later.
There are no requirements defining which expenses the custodial parent may use the support monies to pay for, and the non-custodial parent has very limited rights to insist it be used for one purpose, such as day care, or another.
Child Support can be modified if there is a material and substantial change in circumstances involving one of the parties or a child. The most usual change in circumstances is a job change or loss by the non-custodial parent. Child support can also be modified every three years by a simple showing that child support would change by the lesser of ten percent (10%) of the then current support amount, or one-hundred dollars ($100.00). The same analysis used to calculate child support as described above is used to determine whether this change has occurred or not.