Texas Child Support & Parenting Time Totals
In Texas, the amount of child support is figured based on one parent's income, and parenting time doesn't factor into the formula.
Texas uses a basic child support formula that uses the non-residential parent's income to determine the amount of payment. Accurate parenting time numbers don't directly affect your child support, whether you pay or receive.
Texas attorneys and judges often rely on parenting time estimates, even if they are incorrect, because counting parenting time is tedious and time consuming. Divorcing parents often rely on these estimates as well.
Using estimates means your parenting time totals are wrong when compared to your actual parenting time schedule. Keep your parenting time fair and exact with accurate records.
To calculate parenting time, the easiest and most accurate way is to use software. Without software, you're forced to add up hours for a whole year, which is error-prone when you include alternating holidays, summer break, and any changes to the schedule throughout the year.
The leading parenting time calculation software, Custody X Change, can calculate your parenting time to see if it was estimated incorrectly.
Using software, you can also tweak your schedule to see how even little changes affect your total parenting time, and you can see how your parenting time changes each year due to holidays and other events.
You can also track what actually happens, and show how much parenting time you've actually received for any period of time. Historical information is a powerful tool when you request a child support modification or when you request more parenting time.
In any divorce, Texas family courts award custody of the children to one or both parents. Custody is divided into legal custody and physical custody. In many states, physical custody has an impact on the amount of child support, but not in Texas.
In a Texas physical custody case, the family court will designate a primary physical custodian. The residential parent hosts the children the majority of the time. The non-residential parent has visitation or parenting time.
A Texas family court awards shared physical custody to most cases, except where the children's best interests or a parent's health or safety are an issue. Texas family courts reject child support adjustments based on the time the child spends with a parent.
In Texas, a basic child support formula is used to determine child support amounts. The same formula is used for sole and joint physical custody. Unlike many other states, Texas gives no automatic parenting time credit that can reduce your child support amount.
In the Texas formula, the non-residential parent's gross income is determined and then allowable deductions are made. Deductions can include health insurance obligations for the children or day care expenses, for example. The net income is then used in the child support formula.
The child support formula requires the non-residential parent's net income combined with the number of children to support:
- One child = 20% of the non-residential parent's monthly income
- Two children = 25% of the non-residential parent's monthly income
- Three children = 30% of the non-residential parent's monthly income
- Four children = 35% of the non-residential parent's monthly income
- Five children or more = 40% of the non-residential parent's monthly income
Accurate parenting time percentages are important because in Texas, the law allows for a family court to grant certain deviations from the child support amount.
If you can show your parenting time schedule far exceeds what is considered standard, you may be able to convince a judge to reduce your child support amount.
While this scenario is rare, at least you can present the court with accurate parenting time numbers.
Consider the hypothetical case of Robert and Mary. Robert's net monthly income is $4,000, while Mary's net monthly income is $2,400. They have two children.
See how the child support amounts change in these examples:
- Scenario #1: Robert is the non-residential parent. According to the Texas child support formula, Robert pays $1,000 in child support each month to Mary.
- Scenario #2: Mary is the non-residential parent. Mary pays $600 in child support to Robert.
- Scenario #3: Robert and Mary earn the same amount, $4,000 per month, but she is designated as the residential parent. Robert still pays $1,000 in child support to Mary. This is because in Texas, the non-residential parent pays child support to the residential parent, regardless of income.
Texas's child support formula uses the following information to calculate your monthly amounts for shared custody child support:
- Each parent's monthly gross income.
- The number of children who are under 18 or still in high school.
- Certain deduction amounts, such as the cost of health insurance premiums for the children or the cost of child care.
- A pre-existing child support or alimony obligation by either parent
Paying accurate child support helps your children in several ways, primarily because it ensures their financial needs are met.
Here are some other reasons why accurate overnight numbers help you, the other parent and your children:
- It provides a fair way to determine your child support amounts
- It guarantees the child support amount reflects each parent's responsibilities
- It allows for modifications if your actual time and scheduled time are different
- It is compliant with Texas law
Your financial obligations to your children don't end with divorce, so whether you are paying or receiving child support, you owe it to your children to pay or receive the proper amount.
To ensure you are paying or receiving the right amount of child support in Texas, remember these 5 things:
- Texas family courts prefer to award shared custody to divorcing parents, unless one of the parents is considered unfit.
- Child support and visitation rights are separate issues in Texas, so there is no parenting time adjustment or child support credit given to non-residential parents.
- The Texas courts use a child support formula to determine what the non-residential parent will pay. The state guidelines specify that one parent's income and the number of children to support are key factors in figuring correct child support amounts.
- The non-residential parent pays child support to the residential parent, regardless of income.
- Texas law does allow family courts to approve deviations from the child support formula on a case-by-case basis. One possibility might be that the non-residential parent's parenting time greatly exceeds what is considered standard visitation.
Use the Custody X Change software to accurately calculate your total parenting time to present to a Texas family court.