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Child Support

How is Child Support Calculated in Texas?

The person who pays child support in Texas is the obligor, the person receiving child support is the obligeeIn 1989, Texas Legislators introduced statutory “guideline child support”. This set the percentage of net resources an obligor has to pay based upon the total number of children that the obligor has an obligation to legally support, and the number of children involved in the current case.  That percentage is then applied to the individual’s net resources.  The same guidelines for child support are still in effect today. 

The Calculation of Child Support is a 5-Step Process:

1. Identify all sources of income of the individual ordered to pay child support.

2. Deduct all qualified items to determine net resources.

3. Determine the proper percentage for guideline support.

4. Evaluate additional factors that may allow for a deviation from guidelines.

5. Determine whether an automatic reduction in child support is applicable.

Step One: Identify all sources of income of the Obligor to pay support

According to the Texas Family Code Section, the following are included as income: 

  • 100% of all wage and salary income including commissions, overtime pay, tips, and bonuses; 
  • Interest, dividends, and royalty income; 
  • Self-employment income; 
  • Net rental income (defined as rent after deducting operating expenses and mortgage payments, but not including noncash items such as depreciation); and 
  • All other income actually being received, including severance pay, retirement benefits, pensions, trust income, annuities, capital gains, social security benefits other than supplemental security income, United States Department of Veterans Affairs disability benefits other than non-service-connected disability pension benefits, as defined by 38 U.S.C. Section 101(17), unemployment benefits, disability and workers’ compensation benefits, interest income from notes regardless of the source, gifts and prizes, spousal maintenance, and alimony. 

 However, the following are excluded from the obligor’s income:  

  • Foster care payments 
  • Accounts receivable 
  • Benefits paid from temporary assistance for needy families or federal assistance programs 
  • Return of principal or capital 

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Step Two: Deduct the qualified items from the gross income to determine the net resources of the obligor

The following items are then deducted from the obligor’s gross income.   

(1)  social security taxes; 

(2)  federal income tax based on the tax rate for a single person claiming one personal exemption and the standard deduction; 

(3)  state income tax; 

(4)  union dues; 

(5)  expenses for the cost of health insurance, dental insurance, or cash medical support for the obligor’s child ordered by the court; and 

(6)  if the obligor does not pay social security taxes, nondiscretionary retirement plan contributions that the employee is required to contribute to as a condition of employment.  

 The credit for and obligor paying health insurance of the children is not a dollar for dollar deduction but it will reduce the amount owed for child support.   

Step Three: Step three: Determine the proper percentage for guideline support

The appropriate percentage depends on two factors: the number of children involved in the current case and the number of additional children that the obligor has a legal duty to support.   

A child that you have a legal duty to support is one that is born to you, adopted by you, or is the guardian of, this does not include stepchildren. 

The chart below shows the applicable percentages of guideline child support. This is determined by finding the intersection of the number of children affected by the current case along the top,  and the number of additional children that the obligor has a legal duty to support, along the left side.   

Child support calculation in Texas

Step Four: Evaluate additional factors that may allow for a deviation from the guideline

The Court will presume that this guideline child support is in the children’s best interest.  However, there are additional factors a court may consider that justify increasing or decreasing the guideline amount.   

To deviate from guideline child support, a Court must find that the guideline amount is “unjust or inappropriate under the circumstances.”  A finding by the Court that an obligor is intentionally or voluntarily under-employed or unemployed may affect the amount of child support paid.  The same is true if the needs of the child require more support due to physical, developmental, or educational issues. 

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Step Five: Determine whether an automatic reduction in child support is applicable

Often when there are multiple minor children affected in a case, the Court will order an automatic change in child support as the obligation to support a child ends.   The following are occurrences that terminate the duty to support a child: 

  • The marriage of the child; 
  • The removal of the child’s disabilities for general purposes; 
  • The death of the child; 
  • The enlistment of the child in the armed forces 
  • A finding by a Court that the child is 18 years of age or has graduated high school, whichever occurs later 
  • An Order of termination of parental rights based on genetic testing 


There are some adjustments that apply when the individual ordered to pay child support is self-employed, receives social security disability, or monthly net resources are $1,000 or less.   

Call us if you would like to discuss different factors that you believe may affect your child support obligation.  You may also be interested in reading about recent changes to how child support is calculated in Texas.

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Child Support Calculator 

Use of our calculators does not constitute legal advice. We do not guarantee that the results will be the same as other programs, nor accept any liability from your use of a calculator. Modern Family Law has done extensive testing to ensure accuracy, however, we make no representations that the results will be the same in court. You should always hire your own lawyer to determine accurate, customized results. Because of frequent changes in State statutes and case law relating to the functioning of these calculators, Modern Family Law and any and all persons or entities involved in any way in preparation of our website disclaim all responsibility for the legal effects or consequences of the interpretation of the information provided.

Modern Family Law

Modern Family Law’s team of experienced family law attorneys takes a compassionate approach to the practice of family law. Using innovative technology to create an effective and efficient process for our clientele, our attorneys approach each case as a collective effort to find the best long-term solutions for each family. Our attorneys currently practice in Colorado, California, and Texas. View information about child custody in Austin or child custody in San Antonio. For more information please give us a call or fill out a short form online to sign up for a free consultation today! Let us make a positive difference in your life.

By MFL Team

Posted December 13, 2021

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