A trial court has discretion to set child support within the parameters established by the child support guidelines set forth in the Family Code. When calculating child support statutory guidelines provide a percentage formula based on the obligor’s net resources and the number of children entitled to support. The guidelines are intended to guide the court in determining an equitable amount of child support. However, certain factors are considered in determining whether or not the court should vary from the formula.
In determining whether application of the guidelines for support of a child would be unjust or inappropriate under the circumstances, the court must consider evidence of all relevant factors, including:
- the age and needs of the child;
- the parents’ ability to contribute to the support of the child;
- any financial resources available for the support of the child;
- the amount of time of possession and access to a child;
- the amount of the obligee’s net resources, including the earning potential of the obligee if the actual income of the obligee is significantly less than what the oblige could earn because the obligee is intentionally unemployed or underemployed, and including an increase or decrease in the income of the obligee or income that may be attributed to the property and assets of the obligee;
- child care expenses incurred by either party in order to maintain gainful employment;
- whether either party has the managing conservatorship or actual physical custody of another child;
- the amount of alimony or spousal maintenance actually and currently being paid or received by a party;
- the expenses for a son or daughter for education beyond secondary school;
- whether the obligor or obligee has an automobile, housing, or other benefits furnished by his or her employer, another person, or a business entity;
- the amount of other deductions from the wage or salary income and from other compensation for the parties’ personal services;
- provision for health care insurance and payment of uninsured medical expenses;
- special or extraordinary educational, health care, or other expenses of the parties or the child;
- the cost of travel in order to exercise possession of and access to a child;
- positive or negative cash flow from any real and personal property and assets, including a business and investments;
- debts or debt service assumed by either party; and
- Any other reason consistent with the best interest of the child, taking into consideration the parents’ circumstances.
The court may not add any portion of the net resources of a spouse to the net resources of an obligor or obligee in order to calculate the amount of child support to be ordered.