To Vary or not to Vary: Determining an Amount of Child Support

Posted By Laci Bowman || Jan 15, 2014

Texas offers a formula for determining the typical amount of child support owed, which is generally referred to as “guideline support.” The Texas Family Code states that the guidelines are intended to guide the Court to determine an equitable amount of child support. The amount of child support established under the guidelines is presumed to be reasonable and presumed to be in the best interest of the child UNLESS application of the guidelines would be unjust or inappropriate under the circumstances.

Exactly what evidence would support a finding that application of guideline support is unjust or inappropriate depends on the circumstances of each case. The Texas Family Code sets forth a non-exclusive list of factors to determine whether a variance from the guidelines is appropriate:

1. age and needs of the child

2. ability of the parents to contribute to the support of the child

3. any financial resources available for the support of the child

4. the amount of time of possession of and access to a child

5. the amount of the oblige (person receiving child support) net resources

6. child care expenses incurred by either party in order to maintain gainful employment

7. whether either party has the managing conservatorship or actual physical custody of another child

8. amount of alimony or spousal maintenance received or paid by a parent

9. expenses for a son or daughter to education beyond secondary school

10. whether the obligor or oblige has an automobile, housing, or other benefits furnished by his or her employer, another person, or a business entity

11. amount of other deductions from the wage or salary income and from other compensation for personal services of the parties

12. provision for health care insurance and payment of uninsured medical expenses

13. special or extraordinary education, health care, or other expenses of the parties or of the child

14. the cost of travel to exercise possession of and access to a child

15. positive or negative cash flow from any real and personal property and assets, including a business and investments

16. debts or debt services assumed by either party

17. any other reason consistent with the best interest of the child

Each parent should support the child commensurate with his or her ability to pay; however, the amount paid should not be so great as to deny that parent the necessary expenses of living. The child support order implies a finding that the obligor has the ability to pay the amount ordered.

At the end of the day, the Court will consider all the unique factors surrounding the family to determine an amount of child support that is in the best interest of the child.