In collaborative divorce cases, we often find that people come into the process having misunderstandings about child support. They may have read something on the internet about child support being a percentage of their income.
As attorneys, we always start with explaining to clients that Texas has a statutory method for how child support is calculated. We start with gross income. Then we subtract certain statutorily allowed deductions to get to a number that is called “net resources.”
Unfortunately, that is a fictitious number.
It is not going to match up with what the paycheck says is your net income. Once the amount of a parent’s “net resources” is calculated, the statute then applies a percentage to that number based upon the number of children who are entitled to support.
However, this calculation is just the starting point in determining child support in a collaborative divorce case. We want to make sure that the clients are aware of what those guidelines would be if the case went to court. However, we also want them to know that they have control over what that amount will be in their particular case.
In a collaborative divorce, we have the clients create an expense sheet outlining their children’s specific, actual expenses. This helps to determine their child support amount. What one family does in Frisco or Plano may be very different from what another family does out in west Texas. We look at these expenses for the particular family and also at each parent’s ability to contribute to those expenses.
It is in this process that other expenses related to raising children can be explored.
Expenses such as private school, select sports, summer camp or a college education. During the joint meetings, the parties have the opportunity to plan for their child’s future. They also come up with a plan for how that future will be funded. This is also an opportunity for the parents to communicate with each other about their individual philosophies when it comes to defining the needs of their children, and what each parent is willing to commit to support.
As a result of the Collaborative Divorce process, determining child support payments may result in a more realistic amount. An amount that truly benefits the children in both the short term and long term. It takes into account their specific needs, as opposed to a formulaic number determined by the statute.
Contact A Plano Collaborative Divorce Family Law Attorney