In my last post, I explained how monthly child support payments are calculated under the Texas Family Code. It is very much a cookie cutter system based solely on the income of the paying parent. The needs of your children are not considered, nor is the income of the other parent. And to take it one step further, a parent who earns $500,000 in one year will pay the same amount of monthly child support as a parent who earns $143,000 per year.
Many parents – both the parent paying and the one receiving child support – prefer to consider different options for child support. This is especially true as more and more parents are agreeing to 50/50 parenting time schedules. Courts will approve agreed child support arrangements that differ from the Texas Family Code formula. With a Collaborative Divorce, parents have the opportunity to explore those different options. Some of those options include:
- Comparing both parents’ incomes – One option is a twist on the calculations set out in the Family Code. With this option, use the Family Code formula to calculate what dad would pay to mom based on his income, what mom would pay to dad based on her income, and then calculate the difference. Whoever earns more pays that difference to the other.
- Children’s expenses – The parents also have the option of pre-determining a list of children’s expenses that they will share. The list can include whatever the parents choose, but commonly includes extra-curricular activities, school expenses, medical care, school lunches, car insurance for teens. Then the parents determine based on their respective income what percentage each will pay.
- Shared bank account – Some parents wish to continue operating jointly to pay for their children’s expenses. For those parents, they can set up a joint bank account, each deposit a predetermined amount each month, and then each can pay set expenses from this account with notice to the other.
- Some or all of the above – Sometimes, a combination of the above options with or without a standard Family Code calculation may work better for a family. And that’s an option too.
Of course, parents in a Collaborative Divorce can still choose to just use the formula in the Texas Family Code; it may fit your family’s needs. But the good news is that with a Collaborative Divorce, you have the flexibility to look at other options that may fit your family’s needs better than if you were litigating your case in a courtroom. For more information on how a Collaborative Divorce works, click here.
Rhonda Cleaves is a divorce lawyer whose practice focuses on Collaborative Divorce and other divorce settlement processes. Her office is in Plano with clients also in Frisco, Dallas, Allen, McKinney and surrounding areas.