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How is the amount paid for child support decided, and do amounts ever go above the guidelines?

The Texas Family Code sets forth the standards that govern child support. The child support obligor is required to pay a percentage of his or her “net resources” rather than net income — which is an important differentiation. Net resources include (but are not limited to) wage and salary income, retirement pay, net rental income, capital gains, trust distributions and annuity income. From there, the percentage is based on the number of children. For example, if there is one child, the amount of child support is 20% of the obligor’s net resources. The percentage increases by 5% for each additional child, but does not exceed 40%.

These percentages only apply to the first $8,550 of the obligor’s net resources. However, if the child’s needs are proven to be greater than the amount set forth in the guidelines, courts will allow a deviation upwards. In making that determination, courts can consider items like educational expenses beyond secondary school, the amount of time each party has with the child, and the travel costs for exercising possession/access to the child.