Can a Spouse's Income Be Included in Child Support in Texas?

Your spouse is usually not required to help you support your children from a previous marriage.
Your spouse is usually not required to help you support your children from a previous marriage. (Image: Images)

Generally, Texas will only consider your spouse’s income when calculating your child support obligation if you do something to warrant it. The Texas Family Code does not include it in the state's child support guidelines. However, judges have the right to deviate from the guidelines for special circumstances in individual cases. If your child’s other parent has to take you back to court because you’re not paying your support, your spouse’s income could potentially become a factor.

Child Support Guidelines

When calculating child support, the Texas Family Code begins with your gross income from all sources, then it deducts certain unavoidable expenditures. These include federal and state taxes, Social Security deductions from your pay, union dues if you must pay them in order to work, other support obligations you might have to another family and health insurance premiums you might be paying for your children. A percentage of your net income after the deductions is then set aside to contribute to the support of your children. If you have one child, it’s 20 percent of your net earnings. If you’re supporting two children, 25 percent of your net earnings must go to their support. Only the first $6,000 per month of your income counts. If you earn more than $6,000, the percentage applies to the $6,000 and the rest of your earnings are usually exempt.

Excessive Debt

The court doesn’t allow you to deduct voluntary expenses from your gross income before calculating the percentage you have to pay toward care of your children. These might include an exorbitant mortgage or excessive credit card payments. If you don’t make your child support payments and you pay these things instead, either Texas or your child’s other parent will eventually take you to court. If you claim that you can’t pay your child support because you have high personal expenses, the judge might consider that your spouse’s income can contribute to help you make ends meet.

Voluntarily Unemployment or Underemployment

The court will not allow you to avoid paying child support by not working, or by taking a job that pays much less than you’re able to earn. The Texas Family Code also allows a judge to deviate from the guidelines child support amount in these situations. He will generally “impute” income to you, calculating child support using the salary you would earn if you worked up to your potential. If you're not working at all, he can look to your spouse’s income for payment of your child support. This generally won't happen, however, if you lose your job through no fault of your own.

The Custodial Parent’s Spouse

If your child’s other parent is the one who marries, her new spouse does not impact your child support in any way. Texas expects both parents to support their children, but new spouses don’t have to do so, even if they’re living in the same household with them. The court won’t reduce your child support obligation just because additional income is now coming into your children’s home.

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