Clients who are struggling to pay their child support sometimes ask me if it is possible for them to pay less child support every month.
Fortunately, due to a new law, low-income earners and part-time employees in Texas will actually pay less child support.
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You’re presumed to make HOW MUCH per month?
Texas Courts are required to determine a specific dollar amount for monthly child support payments if requested. On rare occasions, child support is set based on a child’s proven needs. More commonly, child support is set based on the obligor’s income.
Did you know that Courts are allowed to presume that you make a certain amount of money each month. Courts are allowed to presume that you make this much money even without any evidence.
Courts are allowed to presume:
- You are a full-time employee who works 40 hours per week; and
- You get paid the Federal Minimum Wage.
-See Wage and Salary Presumption – Tex. Fam. Code § 154.068(a)
As of the time of this writing, the Federal Minimum Wage is $7.25/hour. That means that you’re presumed to earn a gross income of:
- $290.00 per week ($7.25×40 hours)
- $15,080.00 per year ($290.00 x 52 weeks)
- $1,256.67 per month ($15,080.00 / 12 months)
What if you don’t actually make that much money?
Unfortunately, not everyone actually gets 40 hours per week every week of the year at their job. (part-time workers and seasonal workers, for example)
That means that if you’re only earning minimum wage, and you don’t get 40 hours of work, then it will be mathematically impossible for you to make the presumptive income.
If you don’t earn that amount, you’ll have to provide evidence of your income in order to rebut the presumption. In order to do this, you need to gather your tax returns for the past two years, your most recent pay-stub, and any other documents identifying your income for the past year.
The magic number you want to get to is $1,000.00 per month in net resources if you want to pay less child support.
How to determine your net resources
Contrary to popular belief, child support is not based on your “take home pay.” It’s close, but not quite. Child support is based on something called your “net resources.” Let’s do some simple math.
First, you have to add up your gross Income. Your gross income is pretty much all money received by you per month from all sources, but not counting:
- TANF (Temporary Assistance for Needy Families) payments,
- foster care payments,
- accounts receivable, or
- return of principal or capital.
Then, you deduct:
- social security taxes,
- federal income tax based on the tax rate for a single person claiming one personal exemption and the standard deduction;
- state income tax;
- union dues; and
- expenses for the cost of health insurance, dental insurance, or cash medical support for the child.
-See Net Resources – Tex. Fam. Code § 154.062
After making those deductions, you’ll be left with your “net resources.” If you want to pay less child support, then make sure that you don’t miss any of the available deductions.
But, what if your net resources are less than $1,000.00 per month?
If you have under $1,000 of monthly net resources
If you have less than $1,000 of monthly net resources, then you qualify to pay less child support under this new law.
When child support is calculated based on income, it is typically a specific percentage. For example, it is 20% of your net resources per month for the first child, and then 5% for each additional child up to 5 children at 40%.
However, if your net resources are less than $1,000 per month, you’ll pay less child support because your percentage per month is 5% less per child. That means that you’ll pay 15% of your net resources per month for the first child, and then 5% for each additional child up to 5 children at 35%.
–See Application of Guidelines to Net Resources – Tex. Fam. Code § 154.125
So, $1,001 of net resources, equals $200.20 for 1 child per month, but $999 of net resources equals $149.95 for that same child. That means you’ll pay $50.25 less child support based on those numbers.
This might not seem like very much in savings, but when you have low income, every little bit helps if you need to pay less child support. And before you go to Court, make sure you read 5 Big Reasons You’ll Lose Your Court Case.
–Authored by Matthew L. Harris, Esq.,
Matthew Harris Law, PLLC – Family Law Division
1101 Broadway, Lubbock, Texas, 79401-3303
Tel: (806) 702-4852 | Fax: (800) 985-9479