Some parents are under the impression that child support is not required in situations where both parents have shared custody in Texas after a divorce. The assumption is that if one parent has custody 50% of the time and the other has the child the rest of the time, child support shouldn’t be needed. However, this isn’t how the law works in terms of children in this state.
There are many misconceptions about divorce in Texas. This is one of the reasons that having an experienced Texas divorce attorney can be a great idea. You can ask them all the questions you have and receive guidance on what the divorce and child support situation will look like.
As someone getting divorced in the State of Texas where minor children are involved, it’s essential to understand who will need to pay child support moving forward. Even if you have joint custody of the children, that doesn’t mean you won’t be expected to care for your kids financially.
All states have different rules and regulations around divorce and child custody. Texas even has different terms compared to many places across the United States. While you could research and find out these things on your own, it can take a ton of time and effort. A good attorney makes things much smoother in a divorce.
Types of Child Custody in Texas
Most people are familiar with the term “child custody,” but Texas instead calls this “conservatorship.” In addition, there are many types of conservators recognized by the State of Texas, including:
- Sole managing conservator
- Joint managing conservator
- Possessory conservator
The type of conservatorship determines the rights and obligations of the parents when custody is shared. The most common is naming both parents as joint managing conservators. This means that each parent has basically the same obligations and rights. However, one of the two might have the right to make specific decisions for the child without the other parent’s permission.
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Reasons to Choose a 50/50 Shared Custody in Texas
If the main reason you want to seek out 50/50 custody is to avoid paying child support, remember that custody does not impact the need to pay for a child. Even if the custody order has a child with you half of the time, you will likely be required to pay child support anyway.
In fact, in joint custody situations, it’s highly unlikely that child support won’t be included. There is almost always some sort of income disparity, and it may be a large one. If you’re making more income, the court will let you know the amount you should pay based on what you make.
However, there are other reasons to push for joint custody during divorces in Texas. If you want to have an equal role in the life of your child from having quality time together to making decisions, a 50/50 split may be the best option. At the same time, that really depends on the specifics of your situation.
Does Child Custody Impact Child Support?
The type of child custody has no impact on child support in Texas. Texas legal code states that the designation of joint managing conservatorship does not affect the court’s authority to order either of the parents to pay child support to the other in order to ensure the child has everything they need.
Because of this, Texas courts can choose to award child support no matter what the conservatorship designation is. So, a parent who is given joint conservatorship rights may still be told that they need to pay child support depending on the specific circumstances in the case.
Instead, Texas courts use a set of guidelines to calculate child support and how much the monthly payments should be. When appropriate, the court will calculate the gross income of each parent. This involves taking the annual income and dividing it by 12 to get a monthly gross income. The following are used for the calculations:
- All salary income, wages, and other compensation for personal services, such as tips, bonuses, overtime pay, and commissions
- Any income someone earns in royalty, dividends, and interest income
- Self-employment income
- Income created from renting a property after deducting operating costs and mortgage payments
- Other income such as capital gains, social security benefits, annuities, retirement benefits, trust income, pensions, and severance pay
- Additional types of income, such as prizes and gifts, alimony or spousal maintenance, workers’ compensation, disability, unemployment, and pensions
So if you or your spouse get bonuses and overtime, those things are considered part of gross income. All of these forms of income are factored into the child support you receive or pay.
Child support will be calculated using net income. This is the number you get when the gross income has approved deductions subtracted. This includes the expenses below:
- Federal income taxes
- State income taxes
- Medicare and Social Security taxes
- Union dues
- Health insurance expenses that apply to shared children
After all the deductions are subtracted, child support will be calculated based on the final net income.
Can Joint Conservators Agree Out of Court on Shared Custody in Texas?
In Texas, parents have the option of agreeing on child support without seeking involvement with the court. This means that joint conservators are not required to go to court and allow a judge to decide on how the child support award will work. However, if the parents work together and come to an agreement, that information needs to be submitted to the court for approval.
Remember that child support in Texas can include all sorts of income, including overtime or bonuses, so those things should be calculated when having mediation for the divorce. There are two different options when choosing to agree on child support without going to court:
- Decide that there is no need for child support
- Or select an agreeable amount of child support
Not all parents will be able to make this decision on their own. If that’s the case, they need to go to court, where a judge will make a decision. Texas courts make all decisions about child support based on what is going to most positively impact the child.
This can all get very complicated, especially if the two spouses do not get along. If you are working to decide on child support (or wish to have the judge do so), an experienced family law lawyer can assist you. This is the best way to get a predictable outcome when going before the court.
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How Does the Number of Children Impact Child Support?
Income is one of the things used to determine the appropriate amount of child support in Texas, but it isn’t the only one. The amount paid is also determined by how many children are being supported.
- One child – Net income is multiplied by 20%,
- Two children – Net income is multiplied by 25%.
- Three children – Net income is multiplied by 30%.
- Four children – Net income is multiplied by 35%.
- Five children – Net income is multiplied by 40%
- Six or more children – The amount must be as much or more than the child support for five children.
There’s one other thing to be aware of for the person who is tasked with providing child support. They also need to pay for health insurance for the child.
In addition, this is only a general idea of what a parent might be expected to pay. Judges have a huge amount of discretion in terms of deciding how much child support is appropriate. Whether you are seeking child support from the other parent or trying to keep the child support payments low, it’s a good idea to bring on an experienced Texas family law attorney to represent you.
What Happens If the Parent Paying Child Support Is Unemployed?
If the spouse who is paying child support is unemployed or underemployed, the court may make certain adjustments based on that fact. If the court feels the person is choosing to work less than they could and earnings are suffering for that reason, the calculation will take into account what their income would look like when employed on a full-time basis.
If the court notes that this spouse is entirely unemployed, it may decide to use a typical 40-hour week at the federal minimum wage to determine appropriate child support amounts.
What If the Parent Has High Earnings?
In the case where the person paying child support has significant income, Texas does have a wage cap. From time to time, this amount will be modified to account for inflation. This is in place for those who are high earners required to make child support payments.
If there are earnings that go over the wage cap, they are not considered when calculating appropriate child support. Your family law attorney in Texas can give you information on the current wage cap and what you might be expected to pay based on the number of children and your level of income.
Work with an Experienced Family Law Attorney in Texas
Parenting children with an ex can be very complicated in shared custody in Texas, especially if you don’t agree with the other parent. A visitation schedule where the child sees each parent for the same amount of time could be the answer. However, there are many challenges to be aware of. A Texas family law attorney can help you understand all your options.
The Aberdeen Law Firm is composed of committed lawyers who will fight for you to get the results you want. We can help you decide the best strategy to take to get the custody arrangement you desire. If you’re ready to get started, contact us today and set up a free consultation.
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