Judges in Texas family law cases have discretion to award child support in excess of statutory guidelines under certain circumstances. The guidelines apply to obligors with up to $8,550 of monthly net resources.
If a parent who is obligated to pay child support has monthly net resources above $8,550, the court may award additional child support based on the child’s proven needs. These may be either needs that are currently being met or they may be unmet needs.
The court can allocate responsibility for the child’s additional proven needs between the parents. This means that the court may order that either parent or both parents provide the additional child support required. The financial and other circumstances of the parents often play heavily into the court’s determination.
The child’s best interest is the key factor in determining whether additional child support is needed. The parents’ needs are not a consideration for the court. Above-guidelines child support is often requested regarding issues including: nannies or other child care, private school tuition, lessons (music, academic and sports, for example) and other extracurricular activities. The court can also look to a child’s future needs, beyond the current needs of the child, in awarding additional child support.
Some of the factors that may be considered by a Texas court in deciding whether to award above-guidelines child support in a particular case that are provided by the Texas Family Code include:
(1) The child’s age and needs;
(2) Educational expenses beyond high school;
(3) Health insurance and uninsured medical expenses of the child;
(4) Extraordinary educational, health care of other expenses of the parties or the child;
(5) Travel costs to exercise possession of the children;
(6) Child care expenses so that the parents can work outside the home;
(7) The ability of each parent to provide financial support to the children;
(8) Whether a parent receives spousal maintenance (alimony); and
(9) Any other reason that is consistent with and furthers a child’s best interests.
The Texas Family Code also prohibits a court from including the following factors in its determination of whether to award additional child support: any prior voluntary support that was above guidelines; the gender of the parties or the child; and whether either parent is currently married and how much that spouse earns or the spouse’s net monthly resources.