You are not alone. Let us repeat it for those who didn’t hear or don’t…
The amount of maximum child support under the state’s Child Support Guidelines will increase as of Sept. 1, 2019.
According to the Texas Family Code §154.125, the child support guidelines apply to the paying parent’s monthly net resources up to $7,500.00 as of 2007. However, the state adjusts for inflation every six years. The most recent adjustment changes the paying parent’s situation if their net resources total $9,200. Depending on the paying parent’s monthly net income, it is possible that this change could affect you and your family. More importantly, it could mean that a child support modification may be around the corner.
What is the child support cap?
Child support payments in Texas are based on the paying parent’s income. Very few states actually put a cap on child support payments, but Texas puts a presumptive cap on the amount due each month, based on the net income of the parent paying support. Even with that cap, a court may order the paying parent to pay above that amount. In these cases, the court bases its decision on the income of the parties as well as the proven needs of the child.
The child support cap provides the custodial parent (or the person receiving child support payments) with a presumption of a minimum amount of child support that will be ordered to be paid for the child. It likewise provides assurance for the non-custodial parent (or the paying parent) to know generally what the highest amount of support he or she will owe for child support. However, this amount can be increased by a court finding that the child’s proven needs are financially higher. For example, if a child is disabled and requires specialized care, the court may order additional support over and above the guideline child support amounts.
Under Texas Family Code §154.123, the court has many factors it can consider in determining the amount of child support that should be ordered above or below the guideline amount, including the following:
- the age and needs of the child;
- the ability of the parents to contribute to the support of the child;
- any financial resources available for the support of the child;
- the amount of time of possession of and access to a child;
- the amount of non-paying parent’s financial resources;
- childcare expenses incurred by either party in order to maintain gainful employment;
- whether either party has the managing conservatorship or actual physical custody of another child;
- the amount of alimony or spousal maintenance actually and currently being paid or received by a party;
- the expenses for a son or daughter for education beyond secondary school;
- whether the paying parent has an automobile, housing, or other benefits furnished by his or her employer, another person, or a business entity;
- the number of other deductions from the wage or salary income and from other compensation for personal services of the parties;
- provision for health care insurance and payment of uninsured medical expenses;
- special or extraordinary educational, health care, or other expenses of the parties or of the child;
- the cost of travel in order to exercise possession of and access to a child;
- positive or negative cash flow from any real and personal property and assets, including a business and investments;
- debts or debt service assumed by either party; and
- any other reason consistent with the best interest of the child, taking into consideration the circumstances of the parents.
To determine net income for child support calculations, the court considers the following resources:
- All wage and salary income, as well as other compensation for personal services (including commission, overtime pay, tips and bonuses);
- Interest, dividends, and royalty income;
- Self-employment income;
- Money made from rental properties (after deducting operating expenses and mortgage payments); and
- All other income including severance pay, retirement benefits, pensions, trusts, annuities, capital gains, social security benefits other than supplemental security income, VA benefits other than non-service-connected disability pension benefits, unemployment benefits, disability and workers’ compensation benefits, interest income, gifts and prizes, spousal maintenance, and alimony.
Why is the child support cap increasing?
The last child support cap increase occurred in September 2013. Every six years, the amount automatically adjusts based on the Consumer Price Index (CPI).
In February 2013, the designated CPI was 681.158 raising the child support from $7,550 to $8,550. As of February this year, the CPI was 733.407 an increase of 52.249 points or a 7.67% increase. These figures raise the new maximum net income from $8,550 to $9,200. This change in maximum income makes the new maximum guideline child support amount for one child $1,840 per month.
How will the new Texas child support cap affect me?
Ultimately, the way the cap will affect you depends on how much money the parent paying support brings home. For example, if the paying parent’s current take-home pay is less than $8,550, their child support obligation is not subject to change based on this adjustment to the cap. If the paying parent’s monthly net income is $8,550 or more, their child support obligation may be subject to an increase.
If you are currently receiving child support from a parent that earns more than $8,550 per month net income (the previous cap amount), you may want to consider filing for a modification of child support. Our experienced child support attorneys are ready and willing to assist you with this matter.
Does this increase change my support obligation?
The increase does not affect the percentages applied to net income for calculating child support based on the number of children you pay support for. However, it does apply to the percentage established at the new cap amount of $9,200.
My net monthly income is more than $8,550, will my support automatically increase?
No. Your support obligation will not automatically increase; however, when or if you and your child’s other parent return to court for a modification, your child support obligation could increase based on your income.
My ex and I are in a custody dispute, could this affect me?
If you are in the midst of a custody dispute the amount of child support you pay a month may now be higher. Any cases finalized on or after September 1, 2019, would apply this guideline increase for purposes of calculating the amount of child support owed each month.
The Carlson Law Firm can help
There are many factors that are taken into consideration by a court when determining child support calculations. For a clear understanding of how your child support may be affected by state law, contact The Carlson Law Firm. Our qualified family law attorneys can help you navigate the complex Texas Family Law Code.
Contact The Carlson Law Firm for a free consultation with a qualified member of our legal. We care. We can help.