Error in Texas Attorney General's Child Support Calculator

Under the name VernerLegal, I publish a Texas Child Support Calculator app for iPad and iPhone. As part of quality assurance, I test the calculator against the Texas Attorney General's child support tax charts.

Recently, the AG published a child support calculator on the AG's website. A colleague emailed me to say that my child support calculator produced different results from the AG's child support calculator. Using similar but not identical figures for privacy purposes, I input gross income at \$2,500 per month with five children and medical insurance of \$400 per month into the AG's calculator. The calculator yielded monthly child support payable of \$695.17:

My calculator, in contrast, yielded monthly child support payable of \$766.75 per month. That's a difference of \$71.58 per month - a huge difference if the obligor grosses only \$2,500 per month.

So I went troubleshooting and discovered a flaw in the AG's child support calculator. Medical insurance paid by the obligor is one of the deductions from annual resources to reach net resources, on which child support is calculated. However, the amount of the medical insurance deduction from annual resources is limited to 9% of annual resources under Texas Family Code section 154.181(e). That section reads in part:

If the obligor is responsible under a medical support order for the cost of health insurance coverage for more than one child, "reasonable cost" means the total cost of health insurance coverage for all children for which the obligor is responsible under a medical support order that does not exceed nine percent of the obligor's annual resources, as described by Section 154.062(b).

Nine percent of \$2,500 equals \$225. If \$225 is substituted for \$400 for medical insurance on the AG's child support calculator, then the AG's calculation is correct (with minor differences due to mathematical rounding).

It's unusual that a person who makes only \$2,500 per month would pay as much as \$400 for medical insurance for the children. But it happened in this instance.

Attorneys and others should be aware of the error in the AG's child support calculator when obligors with a relatively low income pay high medical insurance premiums. I am informed, but do not know, that ProDocs' Texas child support calculator has the same flaw as the AG's.

Comments (1) Read through and enter the discussion with the form at the end
Michael O'Connor - November 15, 2012 11:21 AM

Nice catch...thanks for the information. It goes in my "tools" file.

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