What is the Maximum Amount of Child Support I Can Be Ordered to Pay in Texas?
It would be really easy to answer the question of what the maximum amount of child support possible is if the Texas Legislature had decided to put an absolute cap in the family code on the amount of child support, but unfortunately or fortunately depending on where you may be situated in a family law case, there is not absolute cap on child support in Texas. This issue was taken up before the Court of Appeals for the Fifth District of Texas at Dallas on March 9, 2017 in the case In the Interest of V.J.A.O., A Child, where the court re-affirmed that the statutory guidelines allow for courts to consider relevant factors when setting child support and that trial courts have discretion to set child support amounts above what is presumed to be in the best interest of the child under the family code.
What are the Statutory Guidelines?
When the person being ordered to pay child support’s monthly resources are less than $8,550 a month there are presumptive amounts of child support set out in the family code and the court has the discretion to look at multiple factors in deciding how much child support should be paid. In general, the maximum amount in the code for someone making less than $8,550, without factoring in any special needs of the child or any of the other factors, is $1,710. When the person being ordered to pay child support makes more than $8,550 the statute states that the court should presumptively apply the child support percentage amount to the amount that doesn’t exceed $8,550. Basically, it is presumed that you shouldn’t be paying more than $1,710 a month in child support for one child no matter how much money you make.
However, the statute goes on to allow the court to take into account the income of the parties and the proven needs of the child to set an amount above the $1,710 a month but this amount is not supposed to be higher than the amount of the proven needs of the child. The court has discretion to allocate the amounts to be paid into the proven needs of the child to each party in the Child Support case as long as they don’t order more than 100% of the proven needs of the child to be paid.
The court stated in In the Interest of V.J.A.O., A Child, that the statute regarding “proven needs” has been, “so broadened that there is little cause for concern regarding inappropriate considerations in determining above-threshold child support award.” The court further held that proven needs for the above $8,550 child support award is a standard that they are not going to be quick to disturb a trial court’s determination of. They held that the trial court will have broad discretion in deciding this. Basically, as long as the appellate court can point to some evidence as to why the trial court decided to go above the amount set out as presumed to be in the best interest of the child in the family code, the appellate court is going to uphold the trial court’s decision to go above that amount.
What Does This All Mean?
In short, there is no absolute maximum amount of child support that can be awarded. The statute presumes that $1,710 should be the maximum for child support for one child. In the case decided by the Fifth District of Texas at Dallas, the court upheld a child support award of $5,000 a month for one child based on the “proven need” for a child to go to a dual-language private school and the father’s monthly income exceeding $8,550. In that case, the appellate court indicated that they would be hesitant to overturn a trial court decision awarding above guideline child support because the statute is so broad.
Contact Guest and Gray if you have any questions about you child support matter. We can set up a time to discuss your case and let you know what your options are.