Three Common Questions about Texas Child Support
In Texas, child support is governed by Chapter 154 of the Texas Family Code. Section 154.001 states that “[t]he court may order either or both parents to support a child in the manner specified by the order: (1) until the child is 18 years of age or until graduation from high school, whichever occurs later; (2) until the child is emancipated through marriage, through removal of the disabilities of minority by court order, or by other operation of law; (3) until the death of the child; or (4) if the child is disabled as defined in this chapter, for an indefinite period.
Chapter 154 answers all our questions about child support in Texas. Here are three common questions and answers about child support in Texas:
Question 1: Does overtime count in the calculation for child support?
Answer: Yes. Section 154.062 says, “The court shall calculate net resources for the purpose of determining child support liability as provided by this section. Resources include:
(1) 100 percent of all wage and salary income and other compensation for personal services (including commissions, overtime pay, tips, and bonuses);
(2) interest, dividends, and royalty income;
(3) self-employment income;
(4) net rental income (defined as rent after deducting operating expenses and mortgage payments, but not including noncash items such as depreciation); and
(5) 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.”
Thus, overtime pay is included in the calculation for child support based on the average amount of overtime.
Question 2: I lost my job. Do I still have to pay child support?
Yes. However, if you will experience a long-term decrease in pay, you may request a modification of your child support order from the court. You may request a modification through the Office of the Attorney General or by filing a Modification in Suit Affecting the Parent-Child Relationship. Section 156.401 states:
“GROUNDS FOR MODIFICATION OF CHILD SUPPORT. (a) Except as provided by Subsection (a-1), (a-2), or (b), the court may modify an order that provides for the support of a child, including an order for health care coverage under Section 154.182, if:
(1) the circumstances of the child or a person affected by the order have materially and substantially changed since the earlier of:
(A) the date of the order’s rendition; or
(B) the date of the signing of a mediated or collaborative law settlement agreement on which the order is based; or
(2) it has been three years since the order was rendered or last modified and the monthly amount of the child support award under the order differs by either 20 percent or $100 from the amount that would be awarded in accordance with the child support guidelines.
Question 3: Can we make our own agreement concerning child support?
Yes, as long as the Court determines that the agreement is in the best interest of the child.
Section 154.124 states as follows:
“AGREEMENT CONCERNING SUPPORT. (a) To promote the amicable settlement of disputes between the parties to a suit, the parties may enter into a written agreement containing provisions for support of the child and for modification of the agreement, including variations from the child support guidelines provided by Subchapter C.
(b) If the court finds that the agreement is in the child’s best interest, the court shall render an order in accordance with the agreement.
(c) Terms of the agreement pertaining to child support in the order may be enforced by all remedies available for enforcement of a judgment, including contempt, but are not enforceable as a contract.
(d) If the court finds the agreement is not in the child’s best interest, the court may request the parties to submit a revised agreement or the court may render an order for the support of the child.”