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If We Share Custody, Do I Still Have to Pay Child Support?

Boyd Family Law Dec. 29, 2021

When the parents of a minor child decide to end their marriage, issues related to the child are often the most contentious during the ensuing divorce process. Deciding how custody (conservatorship in Texas) and child support will be handled can cause both parties to dig in their heels. If you are a father who is seeking shared (50-50) custody of your child, you may wonder how that will impact your child support obligation. To provide some perspective, Fort Worth father’s rights attorney Jon Boyd discusses the need to pay child support if you share custody.

Texas Child Support Basics

The law requires both parents of a minor child to continue to financially support the child post-divorce. Typically, the parent who is the non-residential conservator is obligated to pay child support to the residential conservator at least until the child reaches the age of majority (18). Exactly how much child support you will be ordered to pay if you are the non-custodial parent depends primarily on your income and the number of children you have. Texas uses a simple guideline that calls for you to look at the amount the payor makes and then determine the appropriate percentage of that income depending on the number of children. For example,

  • One Child 20 percent of net resources

  • Two Children 25 percent of net resources

  • Three Children 30 percent of net resources

  • Four Children 35 percent of net resources

  • Five Children 40 percent of net resources

  • Six Children Not less than 40 percent of net resources

For parents with high assets/income, Texas does impose maximum child support amounts. As of September 2019, the maximum amount of monthly net resources (total monthly income less certain deductions) on which child support is calculated was increased to $9200 per month. In addition, the maximum child support amount went up for one child to $1840; for two children to $2300; for three children to $2760; and for four children to $3,220.

How Does Shared Custody Impact My Child Support Obligation?

Like most states, Texas has a “standard” possession order that divides the time both parents spend with the child 65-35. In other words, the managing conservator has the child 65 percent of the time while the child is with the other parent 35 percent of the time. The law presumes that the parent who has the child most of the time will spend more money on the child than the other parent. This is one of the underlying assumptions upon which the obligation to pay child support is based. What happens if both parents have the child 50 percent of the time? Does that change your child support obligation?

Unfortunately, the Texas child support guidelines do not automatically account for a deviation in the standard possession order. Therefore, if you agree to a 50-50 split of time with your child, you will still be ordered to pay child support based on a percentage of your income unless you agree to deviate from the guidelines amount or you are able to convince the judge to order a lessor amount. There is a strong argument to be made, however, that a downward deviation is warranted if you have possession of your child 50 percent of the time because you are then responsible for out of pocket expenses related to the child 50 percent of the time. This is one of the many reasons why you should have an experienced divorce attorney on your side when you go through the divorce process.

Contact a Fort Worth Father’s Rights Attorney

If you are contemplating a high asset divorce that involves issues related to minor children, contact an experienced Fort Worth father’s rights attorney at Boyd Family La to schedule your appointment today.