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Child Support in Texas: Covering School Needs and Other Choices

Child Support and School

Child support plays a crucial role in ensuring the well-being and growth of children both during and after a divorce. As a newly single parent, you may wonder how child support is allocated, particularly when it comes to your child’s educational needs. We know concerns arise regarding child support, and we’re here to provide guidance and support throughout the process.

What is Child Support in Texas?

Child support in Texas is defined as financial assistance provided by the non-custodial parent to help meet the child’s essential needs, including food, clothing, shelter, education, medical care, and more. It aims to create stability and ensure the child’s best interests are upheld. While the law sets guidelines for calculating child support, the specific amount to be paid can vary based on individual circumstances and income.

How Much Do You Have to Pay for Child Support in Texas?

The amount of child support in Texas is calculated using a percentage of the non-custodial parent’s net income, with adjustments made for certain expenses such as health insurance and income taxes. Based on the Texas Family Code, you can get an approximate figure of how much you’ll have to pay for child support following this formula:

  • Payer’s Annual Income (÷) 12 months (-) deductions (x) the applicable percentage

The child support percentages in Texas are determined based on the number of children involved:

  • For 1 child: 20 percent of the non-custodial parent’s net monthly income.
  • For 2 children: 25 percent of the non-custodial parent’s net monthly income.
  • For 3 children: 30 percent of the non-custodial parent’s net monthly income.
  • For 4 children: 35 percent of the non-custodial parent’s net monthly income.
  • For 5 or more children: 40 percent of the non-custodial parent’s net monthly income.

There are other adjustments which will be made to the calculation, such as other children who are not before the court whom you have a legal obligation to support.

Also, in Texas, the percentage is applied to the Net Income up to $9,200.  The Texas Legislature makes adjustments to this cap on Net Income from time to time.  It is important to note that in Texas, the courts generally presume that this calculation known as the state “guidelines” is in the best interest of the child.  That is a rebuttable presumption, but often the courts do not order child support in excess of guidelines unless you have a child with special needs.

How child support is calculated will vary from state to state, so if you are in a state outside of Texas, you will likely have a very different system that takes into account the lifestyle considerations of the parents and children, and the amount of discretionary income of the parents.  However, that is not the case in Texas.

Many parents who have income in excess of the $9,200/month find the guidelines to be very limiting, and do not take into account the child’s well-being and quality of life.  It is not unusual for parents to enter into agreements for child support that is greater than the amount dictated by the guidelines.  

What Does Child Support Cover in Texas?

Child support is intended to provide for the child’s basic needs, ensuring they have access to essentials like food, childcare, clothing, and shelter.  There are no strict regulations on how child support funds should be allocated, and no government agency monitors or dictates their usage. As long as the money benefits the child’s well-being and needs, it is typically considered appropriate.

FAQs About Child Support and School Needs

As a parent, you may have specific questions about how child support relates to your child’s educational needs. Here are some common inquiries addressed:

Q: Does Child Support Cover School Supplies?

A: Yes, the party receiving child support can use child support to cover school supplies, including books, stationary, and other essentials your child may need for their education.  However, a parent who pays child support is still obligated to ensure that the child has the basic necessities while the child is in their possession.  So, if you are paying child support, and your child needs a backpack or lunch box when your child is with you, make sure you get your child the supplies they will need.

Q: Does Child Support Cover School Lunch?

A: Parents should expect to pay for the child’s school lunches on the days the parent has possession of the child according to the possession schedule in their orders.  Even though a parent is paying child support, they are still obligated to provide the child with basic needs (e.g., food) while the child is in their possession.

Q: Is School Tuition Covered in Texas Child Support?

A: In Texas, regular child support payments typically do not include private school tuition expenses. However, parents can mutually agree to allocate additional support for such educational needs.

Q: Does Child Support Continue Through College in Texas?

A: Child support in Texas typically ends when the child reaches the age of 18 or graduates from high school, whichever occurs later. However, some exceptions may apply, such as if the child has special needs or has not graduated high school by the age of 18.

Q: Do I Have to Pay for My Child’s Private School?

A: The decision to pay for private school expenses can be determined through negotiation and mutual agreement between parents. If you and your ex-spouse agree on providing a private education for your child, you can allocate additional support for this purpose.

Can I Specify What My Child Support Covers?

An obligor of child support cannot dictate what child support covers, when they are paying the guideline amount to the other parent.  If, however, the parent wants to pay for expenses over and above the guideline amount of child support, then the parents may have additional provisions for covering expenses such as child care, extracurricular activities, private school, sports programs, car expenses, cell phones, college, and more. Orders can be tailored to suit the unique needs of the family, which proves especially helpful when both parents value the importance of extracurricular activities for the child’s development.

What If My Ex-Spouse and I Don’t Agree on How Child Support is Spent?

Generally – how the child support is being used is not something the court will consider. The system presumes that the parent receiving child support is using the support to help cover the living expenses that are increased as a result of caring for the child most of the time.  So, if you are the obligor of child support, you need to know that you are not entitled to a detailed expense sheet showing how child support is being used.  Now, if you have evidence that the other parent is not providing the basic necessities for your child, and you are concerned about money being used for illegal or illicit activities, then that is a conversation you need to have with your lawyer.

Disagreements on how child support is spent are common, but it is essential to prioritize your child’s well-being. If you find yourself at odds with your ex-spouse on this matter, consider seeking legal advice and assistance. An experienced family law attorney can help mediate the situation and ensure the child’s best interests are upheld.

Child support can be an emotionally charged and complex topic. It is vital that throughout the process, from agreeing on child support terms to abiding by them, both you and your ex-partner prioritize the needs of your child. Ultimately, it is our children who will either benefit or suffer from our actions and decisions in this matter. 

If you need help regarding child support, our compassionate and skilled team is here to support you every step of the way. We are dedicated to helping families navigate the challenges of divorce and custody, providing personalized solutions that prioritize the needs of your children. If you have questions or need legal advice about child support and school needs, we encourage you to get in touch with us today. We look forward to working with you and building a better, brighter future for your children, ensuring they receive the love and support they deserve.