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Do Child Support Payments Increase if You Get a Pay Raise?

Depending on the other facts of the case, yes.

More than likely. In terms of child support laws, Texas is a percentage-of-income state. Usually, the obligor’s income and the number of children before the court are the only two child support determination factors. Occasionally, judges make allowances based on the proportion of overnight visits, the child’s special needs, and other such factors, But these instances are rare, as the child support guidelines are presumptively reasonable in most cases.

Conversely, income decreases usually lower child support payments, unless the decrease involves bad faith. More on that below. Additionally, child support payments usually go down when children graduate from high school. Child support obligations rarely continue past this point in Texas.

However, child support changes, whether increases or decreases, usually aren’t automatic. A Ft.Worth family law attorney must file a motion to modify the child support obligation. If the judge finds that financial circumstances have materially, substantially, and permanently changed, the judge will re-calculate the support obligation. Child support increases are usually retroactive to the filing date. Child support decreases usually aren’t retroactive.

Increased Income

Obligors (people who pay child support) usually do not share information about their salaries with obligees (people who receive child support). If circumstantial evidence indicates that the obligor is making more money, a Ft. Worth family law attorney is usually clear to file a motion. Such evidence includes:

When a lawyer files a motion to modify, the obligor must turn over financial records, such as tax returns, pay stubs, and W-2 forms, to the obligee. So, the obligee has nearly bulletproof evidence to support his/her claim for modification.

Different courts define material and substantial in different ways. As a rule of thumb, the judge will modify child support if the obligor’s income has increased by at least 10 percent.

The higher income level must be permanent, an issue that often affects claims if the obligor is self-employed. Dramatic income fluctuations are very common in these situations.

On a related note, the child support obligation is based on the obligor’s total income. That includes passive income, like rental income, and most corporate accounts.

Decreased Income

The 10% rule usually applies in child support decrease cases as well. The permanency rules also apply. Independent contractors who have bad months or even bad quarters usually are not entitled to child support reductions.

The good faith rule applies as well. Obligors cannot accept lower-paying jobs to decrease their child support or alimony obligations.

This rule is frequently hard to enforce. Many people leave high-paying jobs for low-paying jobs for many reasons. Judges normally look for extreme situations, such as a CEO becoming a janitor, or other circumstantial evidence, like Facebook posts complaining about high child support obligations.

The court order often does not affect a wage withholding order. An attorney must change that wage withholding order in a separate proceeding.

Reach Out to a Dedicated Tarrant County Child Support Attorney

Child support modification matters are usually complex in Texas. For a free consultation with an experienced family law attorney in Fort Worth, contact the Law Office of Kyle Whittaker. Convenient payment plans are available.