What is Child Support and Why Does a Court Require It to be Paid?

What is Child Support – Divorce quickly cuts into your income, and if you are a two-income family your income will be cut in half. However, the household expenses you used to share will double as you set up two households. The expense of divorce litigation can make your financial situation even tougher. Most couples face real financial hardship during a divorce, and this added financial pressure only adds to an already intense emotional situation. It should come as no surprise, then, that child support can be a contentious issue. However, if you keep in mind that this support is designed to benefit your child and that it costs money to raise a child, it may help you maintain your perspective and avoid protracted battles over support.

Parents have a Legal Duty

Parents have a duty to support their child, which includes providing the child with clothing, food, shelter, medical and dental care, and education. This duty begins at the birth of the child, and requires the parents to provide more than the bare necessities. If parents fail to provide for the support of their child they can be held liable to other people who support their child, face criminal liability for non-support, and even have their parental rights terminated.

Accordingly, child support in a divorce or other suit affecting the parent-child relationship is simply the way the legal system tells the parents how to share their already existing legal duty when they are not doing so willingly.

Although child support generally goes to the parent who has primary physical custody of the child (exclusive right to designate primary residence), child support is designed to benefit the child. Courts know and paying parents should realize that custodial parents “pay child support” because they are ultimately responsible for covering the everyday expenses of the child. These expenses are real and they are paid regardless of the amount of support actually received by the parent. This is why a parent who spends little or no time with his or her child is still required to pay child support.

How Child Support is calculated in Texas

Child Support in Texas is calculated according to the Texas Child Support Guidelines. For parents who make less than $8,550 per month in net income, child support is generally a percentage of the parent’s income, as follows:
• 1 child – 20% of the monthly net income
• 2 children – 25% of the monthly net income
• 3 children – 30% of the monthly net income
• 4 children – 35% of the monthly net income
• 5 children – 40% of the monthly net income

A parent who has net income (resources) of more than $8,550.00 will be ordered to pay the applicable percentage of child support on the first $8,550.00. However, the Court may award additional child support based on the reasonable needs of the child established at trial or agreed to by the parties.

Determining what counts as income and what a person’s net income (resources) is for the purposes of calculating child support can be very challenging. For high-income parents or situations where guideline support will not be sufficient, establishing the “reasonable needs” of a child is a case-by-case and somewhat subjective matter. Accordingly, it is important to hire an experienced attorney who is familiar with uncovering and determining what a person’s income is.

At the Nelson Law Group, we listen to your story and devise a litigation strategy that works for you. Whether you are seeking child support, seeking a modification, or concerned about paying an unfair amount percentage of your income in support, we can help you. Call us today!

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