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Is child support calculated differently if you’re not married?

On Behalf of | Feb 14, 2024 | Child Support

When a child is born to unmarried parents, the baby’s mother is automatically empowered with parental rights and obligations, but the father is not.

Only once he is legally recognized does an unmarried father have any formal right to seek possession or access and make decisions for his child. That also triggers an automatic obligation to financially support their child, too – and that obligation is no different than if they were married to the child’s mother.

Who is required to pay child support?

Typically, the parent who has primary possession of the child will receive support from the other parent – although even a parent with equal possession may end up paying support to the other parent if they have significant income differences. In Texas, the amount a parent pays is based solely on the parent’s income and the number of children they’re supporting.

How is child support calculated?

If you’re ordered to pay child support as an unmarried father, in general, the court will look at all your income sources (with a few exceptions), such as:

  • Wages and self-employment
  • Commissions, overtime, tips and bonuses
  • Royalties, dividends and interest income from annuities or trusts
  • Rental incomes
  • Retirement benefits, pensions and Social Security

The court will not look at the income or resources of your spouse (if you have one), nor will they count any needs-based income, such as Supplemental Security Income or other assistance programs. Once your total income is determined, the court will deduct your taxes, non-discretionary retirement contributions and whatever you pay for your child’s health insurance or medical bills.

That allows for a total yearly net income that can then be divided by 12 to get your net monthly income. If that is below $9,200, you will pay a percentage of your net monthly income in support. For one child, you can expect to pay 20%. If you have more than $9,200 in net monthly income, you may be required to pay more (up to 100% of your child’s needs).

Child support lasts until your child turns 18 years of age or graduates high school, whichever happens last. If a child is disabled, support obligations may last indefinitely.

If you have questions about your support obligations, don’t guess: Seeking experienced legal guidance can help you meet your obligations and assert your rights effectively and in informed ways.