In Texas, courts will generally award child support payments to the custodial parent or the “Primary Joint Managing Conservator.” Texas courts will require the noncustodial parent or “Possessory Conservator” to pay child support. The Texas Legislature requires judges to follow Section 154.125 of the Texas Family Code when establishing child support awards.
The Texas child support guidelines require parents obligated to pay support to report all of their net income. Based on a parent’s net income and number of children, courts will award support pursuant to a flat-percentage model. A parent obligated to pay support for two children will pay 25 percent of her income as her support obligation. If she has four children, then she is obligated to contribute 40 percent of her net income to support her four children. Net income is money from wages, overtime, pensions, capital gains, gifts and Social Security benefits. From the custodial parent’s total resources, a court will deduct money paid for required union expenses, income taxes, a child's insurance costs and mandatory pension contributions.
Social Security Benefits
The federal government administers both Social Security Disability Insurance and Supplemental Security Income programs to help disabled individuals receive monetary benefits. Under Texas law, if a child receives derivative benefits as a dependent of a disabled parent, then the noncustodial parent can request a credit for the child’s benefits, according to Texas Family Code Section 154.132, “Application of Guidelines to Children of Certain Disabled Obligors.”
Texas Family Code Section 154.132
This section requires a court to apply the presumptive guideline percentage after deducting the child’s benefits received under the parent’s Social Security disability income. For example, the Social Security Administration pays benefits to the dependents of a disabled parent who is receiving Social Security Disability Insurance benefits. If a child receives $200 in Social Security benefits as a result of his parent’s disability, then the Texas Family Code states that a court must award the difference between what that parent is ordered to pay and $200. The remainder will be the noncustodial parent’s support obligation.
Under Texas law, judges cannot require parents to contribute more than 50 percent of their income toward their monthly child support obligations. The Texas child support guidelines establish the presumptive percentage; and although judges may deviate for good cause or in the interests of judicial equity, they must provide a written reason for deviating. A court can modify a child support award if a noncustodial parent’s sole source of income is only Social Security Disability Income, and Texas law allows courts to deviate from the guidelines if the parent would be destitute after paying the presumptive share of support.
Since state laws can frequently change, do not use this information as a substitute for legal advice. Seek advice through an attorney licensed to practice law in your state.