How child support is calculated varies by state. Texas uses a formula to calculate child support that relies on the income of the person that is going to pay child support (called the “obligor”). The formula looks at the gross income of the obligor and then uses a chart published by the Office of the Attorney General to calculate net income. The obligor can deduct the cost of health insurance for the child from the net income if he/she is paying the cost directly or reimbursing the person who is receiving child support (called the “obligee”) for the amount they are paying for the child’s health insurance. Other deductions may also be allowed depending on the specific situation of a case. After the final net income is determined, the obligor pays a percentage of their net income as child support. The percentage is based on the number of children for which the obligor owes child support. For example, a person with one child will pay twenty percent of their net income whereas a person with two children will pay twenty-five percent of their net income. The percentages increase along with the number of children, but they also are modified for situations where an obligor may owe child support for children in more than one household.
Medical child support is a term that is used when an obligor is reimbursing the obligee for the cost of health insurance for a child or is reimbursing the state a certain amount for a child that is enrolled in a government sponsored health insurance plan such as Medicaid.
In a nutshell, no. Texas does not put limits on how child support is spent by the obligee, although the presumption is that a person with custody of a child will use the funds for the child’s physical needs and general living expenses. Further, the obligee does not need to account for the funds that he/she receives, and the funds do not have to be kept segregated from any other funds belonging to the obligee. If the child’s needs are not being met, it may be grounds for modification of custody, and it would be helpful to discuss any specific fact situation with an attorney.
All child support payments are required to go to the State Disbursement Unit, and the disbursement unit will match the payment with a child support account and send it to the obligee. The obligor can send payment indirectly to the disbursement unit, but it is often withheld directly from an obligor’s paycheck by sending a request to his/her employer. The employer will electronically withhold the amount of child support owed per pay period and send it to the disbursement unit via electronic transfer. The obligee generally receives the payment within 2-3 days if it is sent electronically, and within 4-5 days if it is sent via mail by the obligor to the disbursement unit. Both “regular” child support and medical child support are paid through the same methods.