Both child and spousal support are important parts of divorce that most people understand they may encounter when ending their marriages. However, confusion about how judges determine the correct amount for child support can leave some people in Texas worried that they are paying more than they should. Understanding what factors go into these decisions can help people better understand what they are paying and why.

Income is a significant factor in support decisions. Most people are already familiar with income from employment, but income can also refer to a number of other situations. For example, corporate contributions to a retirement account can also be counted as income, as can carried interest and bonuses for good performance or starting a new job. Judges may also look at a person’s tax return to determine whether there are other unnamed sources of income.

Settling on the correct amount involves more than just considering how much the payer earns. Children’s needs and protecting the lifestyle they are accustomed to is another important factor in child support. Securing a continued lifestyle to which a person has become accustomed is also a deciding figure in some spousal support decisions.

Aside from these factors, some judges may also consider what a person potentially could be earning. This might happen in a situation where the parent ordered to pay has a high level of education in a lucrative career field, but steps away from a well-paying job to work in a lower-paying, entry-level job. Those who do this in an effort to pay less in child support might be surprised to find that judges will often consider what they could be making and use that potential as income when making decisions.

Family law judges in Texas also have the discretion to consider additional factors that they consider relevant. This can make the reasoning behind such decisions regarding spousal and child support somewhat more confusing to some parents. However, even if a person believes that a support order is for too much or if their financial situation changes, it is generally possible to ask the court for a modification.