Every six years, Texas revises its guidelines for child support by adjusting the maximum amount that can be considered as the net resources of an obligor. This amount, often referred to as the “cap” for child support, limits a payer’s child support obligation to a percentage of the “cap.” The state’s cap for guideline child support changed in September 2019, going from $8,550 to $9,200. While this increase may not affect you, it’s important to know how it works — and if it could.
How the cap is calculated
Texas’ income cap ensures that, for paying parents, their child support obligation will not be excessive. Obligors who earn incomes exceeding $9,200 (in net resources) per month will pay $1,840 per month for one child (20% of $9,200). This percentage increases by 5% for each additional child you have, unless you have more than five children. Beyond this point, you will pay no less than 40% of your net monthly resources toward child support. An obligor’s child support obligation could also be slightly less if he/she has children in more than one household.
The Texas Family Code does say that a court may order additional amounts of child support (over and above the amount based on the cap) depending on the income of the parties and the proven needs of the child. If you have a child with special needs or an income far above the threshold, a court has the discretion to increase a child support obligation. It is not common for the courts to deviate from the guideline amounts, but if there are special circumstances it is allowed.
Understanding your obligation
Your child support order may have begun after September 1, 2019. In this case, your obligation will already reflect the adjusted cap. If your child support order began before September 1, 2019, and your net monthly resources are $8,850 or below, your obligation will not change. If your order began before this date and your net monthly resources exceed $8,550, your obligation will not face an automatic increase; however, the parent receiving child support may petition to modify your order to reflect the new guidelines.
If you have concerns about these changes in Texas child support, a family law attorney can help you understand their potential impact.