2013 Texas Child Support Calculator Released

Jimmy Verner announces release of his 2013 version of the Texas Child Support Calculator. CS Calc 2013 is available for purchase on the iTunes store.

Child support changes in Texas every year because it is based upon the earnings of a single person taking the standard deduction and one personal exemption. The 2013 version of CS Calc incorporates the changes made by the American Taxpayer Relief Act of 2012, also known as the "fiscal cliff" legislation.

This year's version of CS Calc adds another feature: A deduction for mandatory retirement contributions when the person's profession (for example, public school teacher) does not require payment of social security taxes. The Texas legislature recognized that it would be unfair to require these persons to pay child support without a deduction for the mandatory retirement contributions. CS Calc 2013 includes a field to calculate child support when there is no social security paid.

CS Calc 2013 includes a maximum of six inputs to calculate Texas child Support:

  • Whether self employed
  • Gross income (annually, monthly, twice per month, every other week or weekly)
  • Number of children before court
  • Cost of health insurance for children
  • Number of other children supporting
  • Mandatory retirement contribution if no social security paid

For more information, visit VernerLegal.

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:

Error in Texas Attorney General child support calculator

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.

Texas Child Support Calculator   

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.

What if the Obligor is Intentionally Unemployed?

Section 154.066 of the Texas Family Code reads:

If the actual income of the obligor is significantly less than what the obligor could earn because of intentional unemployment or underemployment, the court may apply the support guidelines to the earning potential of the obligor.

This provision is, of course, designed to enable a court to force a recalcitrant obligor to pay child support.

For that reason, the Fifth District Court of Appeals recently held that an obligee has the burden to prove that the obligor is intentionally unemployed. In the Interest of K.N.C., 2008 Tex. App. LEXIS 9374 (Tex. App. - Dallas Dec. 17, 2008, n.p.h.). In this case, the father had been seriously injured in a car wreck. When he and his wife divorced, the father received disability benefits, as did the parties' two children.

The trial court ordered the father to pay child support based on the amount the father received as disability payments. But the court of appeals disagreed. There was no evidence that the father quit a job to avoid paying child support. Further, that the obligor applied for a city job two years earlier constituted insufficient evidence to show intentional unemployment when the parties did not dispute that the obligor previously had been seriously injured in an automobile accident and unemployed since that time.