Child support payments are designed to provide the children with the financial support needed for their upbringing when their parents are no longer together. Each state has their own requirements and rules for calculating child support. In Texas, child support is calculated using a variation of the Percentage of Income model.
The Percentage of Income model
This model for calculating child support establishes that support amounts are set based on the non-custodial parent’s net, or take-home, income. To decide the amount that will be paid to the custodial parent, courts use a set amount that can vary from 20% of the non-custodial parent’s income when support is paid for one child up to 40% of the non-custodial parent’s income when support is paid for 5 or more children.
Drawbacks of this model
Because the Percentage of Income model depends only on the non-custodial parent’s income, there are a lot of other parenting factors that are often not considered when establishing the child support payment amount. For example, according to the model, courts originally do not consider the amount of time the child spends with each parent, the number of other children the parent is supporting, whether through child support payments or because they live with that parent or the custodial parent’s income.
Why do courts award higher child support amounts?
In some circumstances, courts might award support amounts higher or lower than the guidelines. Some of the factors that are used to make this decision include:
- Higher than normal costs for education or medical care
- The amount of alimony paid or received by each parent
- The child’s age and their needs
- The travel costs incurred by a parent to exercise their visitation rights
Parents can also work together to negotiate child support payment amounts that work for both parties. In those cases, the court will need to approve the resulting agreement.