Child Support Primer
If you are expecting to have primary JMC of your child (meaning you have joint managing conservatorship and decision-making regarding the child’s residence), you can expect to receive child support the child’s other parent. This will make you the obligee and your ex the obligor.
GUIDELINE CHILD SUPPORT
If you get a divorce and appear before a judge, the judge will make the obligor pay the obligee guideline child support (unless there is a very good reason to deviate from the guidelines). Guideline support is a percentage of the obligor’s net income. Net income is the gross income—total money the obligor receives per month—minus social security and federal tax withholding. The percentage of net income the obligor must pay depends on how many children the obligor and obligee have together and how many other children the obligor is supporting. That chart is listed in the Texas Family Code, Section 154.129. So for example, if the obligor has no other children, he pays 20% of net income as child support to the obligee if they have one child together, 25% if they have two. If the obligor has one child he’s supporting from a prior relationship, then he would pay 17.5% of net income to the obligee if they have one child together, 22.5% if they have two.
MINIMUM WAGE PRESUMPTION
In Texas, the court will generally presume that an obligor should be able to earn NO LESS THAN minimum wage for 40 hours per week for 52 weeks per year. This is called the “minimum wage presumption.” At the very least, that means an obligor whose divorce/SAPCR decree goes into effect after July 24, 2009 will receive money based on a presumed net income of $1,112.79 per month. For a case involving one child, when the obligor has no other children to support, the obligee will receive $222.55. The math on that? $7.25 (the new minimum wage going into effect July 24, 2009 times 40 (hours per week) times 52 (weeks per year) is $15,080. Divide that by 12 (months per year) and you get $1,256.67, the gross pay per month under the minimum wage presumption. Run the gross pay through the Attorney General’s tax chart, and the obligor’s net monthly income is $1,112.79 per month. See the above section for info about how the percentage of the obligor’s net income that the obligee receives depends on how many children are involved in the particular suit at issue and also how many other children the obligor is also supporting. 2009 suits before July 24 will be based on a minimum wage of $6.55 per hour. Older suits operating under a minimum wage presumption will have been based on minimum wage at the time.
RESOURCE: TEXAS FAMILY CODE
Chapter 154 of the Texas Family Code contains all the rules for child support that the attorneys will be operating under. It might hurt your head (it hurts mine sometimes—lots of math!—not to mention all the legal-ese), but feel free to go to the source.