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If You Have Joint Custody, Who Pays Child Support in Texas?

Texas courts typically find that a joint managing conservator relationship is in the best interest of a child in custody cases. You may have heard of this referred to as joint legal custody, but regardless of terminology, it means both parents can make important decisions for their child. When parents share joint custody in Texas, however, who pays child support? The answer is not as simple as some people may hope for.

Do You Pay Child Support With Joint Custody?

In fact, many individuals believe joint custody means no one has to pay child support. This belief is 100% inaccurate, and the following guide will explain why.

In Texas, child support obligations can still apply even if parents have joint custody (also known as “joint managing conservatorship” in Texas legal terms). The key factors in determining child support in Texas include the income of the parents and the amount of time the child spends with each parent.

Here’s a general overview:

  1. Income-Based Calculation: Child support in Texas is typically calculated based on a percentage of the non-custodial parent’s income. This percentage is determined by the number of children requiring support. For instance, it’s 20% of net resources for one child, 25% for two children, and so on, up to a certain cap.
  2. Adjustments for Joint Custody: In joint custody arrangements, where the child spends a significant amount of time with both parents, the court may adjust the child support amount. This adjustment reflects the time each parent spends with the child and their respective contributions to the child’s needs.
  3. Consideration of Both Parents’ Incomes: While the non-custodial parent is typically the one paying child support, the court may consider the income of both parents in determining the appropriate amount of support.
  4. Other Factors: The court may also consider other factors, such as the child’s specific needs, the age of the child, and any special educational or healthcare expenses.
  5. Mutual Agreements: Parents can sometimes agree to a different amount of child support than the standard calculation would suggest. However, this agreement must still be approved by the court to ensure it meets the child’s best interests.

It’s important to remember that each case is unique, and the specific circumstances of your situation can significantly impact child support obligations. For personalized advice and information, consulting with a family law attorney in Texas is recommended. They can provide guidance based on the specifics of your case and the latest Texas family law statutes and precedents.

Who Pays Child Support When Parents Share Custody?

When a joint managing conservator relationship is established, it means important decisions are shared between the parents. Such decisions could include education, religion, healthcare, extracurricular activities, and other consequential choices. Certain decisions may be left to a single party, but this will be spelled out in the custody arrangement. Even in such shared custodial arrangements, though, one parent will likely have to pay child support.

This is because there’s typically a primary joint managing conservator. This person can choose the child’s residency, so they typically can maintain primary physical custody. This means the child spends most of their time with this parent. Even when two individuals want a fully amicable custody arrangement, there will typically always be a primary physical custodian. The noncustodial parent is the one who will usually have to provide financial support.

Child Support for Conservatorship vs Physical Custody

It’s important to distinguish between a conservatorship and physical custody. These are two very different types of custody, and the differences between the two play a huge role in who pays Texas child support in joint custody arrangements. Put simply, financial support boils down to physical custody. Even if one parent has more control due to agreements regarding conservator decisions, it’s the parent with primary physical custody who will receive child support.

Texas courts typically do not create truly joint physical arrangements. They believe that a child’s best interests are served by living primarily in one household. This decision is handed down as part of a standard possession order. Parents can try to reach an agreement for joint physical custody themselves, but it will still have to go through court review. This can complicate child support in Texas, so it’s often ideal to have an agreement in place for these payments as well.

How Much Support Is Paid by a Noncustodial Parent?

Paying child support in Texas is required even in joint custody arrangements. Of course, what a person pays can vary dramatically. In many cases, parents reach an agreement themselves. If a court approves their arrangement, then this is what the child support order will reflect. If a judge ends up having to decide the level of payments, however, there is a standard equation used by all Texas family courts.

When two individuals have one child, 20% of the noncustodial parent’s net resources must go to the custodial parent. This percentage increases by 5% for every additional child up to five children. If the parties have six or more children, at least 40% of the noncustodial parent’s net resources must go to the other parent. This can all be quite complicated, but our Texas family law firm can help you better understand child support issues in joint custody arrangements.

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