In almost every family law case that affects the parent-child relationship, child support obligation is an issue that must be addressed. It must be determined which party will be responsible for the child support and how much that party is expected to pay in support. 

Although the child support calculation is complicated and based on several factors, the Texas Family Code sets out explicit provisions on how the child support obligation is to be determined. 

Every six years, the Texas legislature makes adjustments to the amount of the child support obligation to reflect changes in inflation based on the CPI (Consumer Price Index). Because the last adjustment took place in 2013, the next child support adjustment is due for September 1, 2019. In other words, this upcoming change in child support is not arbitrary or unprecedented, but an automatic adjustment based on a timeline set by the Texas legislature. 

This article will serve as an explanation of current child support laws as well as the new change that is to take effect on September 1, 2019. Additionally, examples of calculations will be provided along with an explanation of how the upcoming increase could affect current and future child support obligors. 

If you are currently obligated to provide child support or may become responsible in the future, it is important to contact a family law attorney to discuss the impact this new Texas law could have on you and your children. 

Child Support Calculation Under Current Law 

 To calculate the proper child support amount, the Court must determine the amount of the obligor’s net income per month and apply the child support guidelines to that amount. There can be a consideration of other factors that would warrant deviation from the guideline amount, but such an adjustment is made only in special circumstances. 

The obligor’s net resources are calculated by determining gross annual income and then recalculating to determine average monthly income. Once the average monthly income is computed, social security and federal income tax withholdings are subtracted from that monthly income amount. The net income will be applied to the guidelines set out in the Texas Family Code.

 In general, the amount of child support is a percentage that is based on the number of children who require support and the obligor’s monthly net resources. For example, see the chart below:

Number of Children

Amount of Child Support

1

20% of obligor’s monthly net resources

2

25% of obligor’s monthly net resources

3

30% of obligor’s monthly net resources

4

35% of obligor’s monthly net resources

5

40% of obligor’s monthly net resources

6+

Not less than the amount for 5 children

When applying the above child support guidelines, the Texas legislature has placed a “cap” on the amount of the obligor’s monthly net resources that will be subject to the guidelines. This “cap” is a limit, set by the Texas Family Code, which limits the amount of that income that will be subject to the guidelines, in the majority of cases.

If the obligor’s monthly net resources are $8,550.00 or less, the amount of child support is calculated as a percentage of that amount. In other words, the current “cap” is set at $8,550.00 of the obligor’s monthly net resources. 

Please see below for an example of the current “cap” calculation of the obligation for one child:

Number of Children = 1 

20% (guideline for 1 child) x $8,550.00 (monthly net resources) 

= $1,710.00 (maximum child support obligation)

Under Texas’ current law, the maximum child support obligation for one child is limited to $1,710.00 (i.e. 20% of $8,550.00).

Child Support Calculation Under New Law as of September 1, 2019

Under the new law that is to take effect on September 1, 2019, the child support “cap” will be increased to $9,200.00 of the obligor’s monthly net resources. In effect, the change in the law will raise the amount of maximum child support. 

Please see below for an example of the new “cap” calculation of the obligation for one child: 

Number of Children = 1 

20% (guideline for 1 child) x $9,200.00 (monthly net resources) 

= $1,840.00 (maximum child support obligation)

 Under Texas’ new law, the maximum child support obligation for one child is limited to $1,840.00 (i.e. 20% of $9,200.00). This change will raise the amount of maximum child support under the Texas Child Support Guidelines from $1,710.00 per month to $1,840.00 per month for one child. 

How Will the New “Cap” Affect Me?

The new “cap” will affect each obligor depending on the individual’s monthly net resources. Where the obligor’s monthly net resources are less than $8,550.00, his or her child support obligation will not change. The obligor’s monthly net resources are less than the current “cap” and thus, will not be subject to the increased “cap”. The obligor’s child support obligation will be calculated in the exact same manner and will remain the same. 

For example, if the obligor’s monthly net resources are $5,000.00, then that amount will not be subject to either the current or new “cap”, and his or her obligation will remain $1,000.00 per month (i.e. 20% of $5,000.00 for one child). 

Where the obligor’s monthly net resources are more than $8,550.00, his or her child support obligation could increase. The obligor’s monthly net resources are more than the current “cap” and will now be subject to the new “cap”. Although the child support obligation will be calculated in the same manner, the new “cap” will apply.

For example, if the obligor’s monthly net resources are $10,000.00, then the child support obligation will be $1,840.00 per month, according to the new “cap” (i.e. 20% of $9,200.00 for one child). 

It is important to note that the new “cap” taking effect on September 1, 2019 will not result in an automatic increase in the obligor’s existing child support obligation. Where there is an existing child support order prior to September 1, 2019, the parties must file a suit for modification with the Court in order to establish the increased amount in child support according to the new “cap.” The law is applied the same for suits that are currently pending, and the Court orders child support prior to September 1, 2019. Where there is a new suit for child support filed after September 1, 2019, the obligor’s net monthly income will be subject to the new “cap.”

The New Law Might Affect Me, What Should I Do?

The calculation of child support can be extremely complicated and depends on a number of moving factors. If you are currently paying or receiving child support payments and have questions regarding how the new law will affect you, do not hesitate to contact our team at The Skillern Firm to explore your options. 

If your family law case is currently pending or you are seeking legal advice regarding future child support, please contact the attorneys at The Skillern Firm who are well-versed in child support laws and happy to assist you.