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What Does ‘Potential Income’ Mean in Texas Child Support Cases?

In Texas, child support is determined by following strict guidelines set by Texas lawmakers. The guidelines declare that the noncustodial parent shall pay child support as a percentage of income, after certain expenses are deducted. If a parent’s income varies over time, then the guidelines state that child support shall be determined by calculating the noncustodial parent’s income over a period of time.

But what about a situation in which the noncustodial parent is not working at all during the divorce process, or later becomes unemployed and claims he or she cannot pay child support? What about a noncustodial parent who leaves a well-paying job during the divorce and enters an industry with lower wages?

It is in situations like these that the concept of “potential income” applies. In cases where evidence shows that the noncustodial parent is not earning according to his or her full potential, the court may calculate child support based on that parent’s potential income, or potential earnings. The court will calculate potential earnings based on education, past work and salary history and other factors. Potential income can be used in both an original child support proceeding or in a proceeding to modify a child support order based on changed circumstances.

Texas Statutes sec. 154.066 covers the issue of calculating a parent’s potential income when a parent is intentionally unemployed or underemployed in an attempt to avoid a child support obligation.

Stewart Law, PLLC, located in Baytown, Texas, has provided legal counsel to men and women in divorce and other family law cases for 8 years. If you have questions about getting or paying child support, we can give you advice that will help you decide how to proceed. For an initial assessment and consultation regarding default and uncontested divorces, contact our family law firm online or call our office at (281) 420-8020, at a reduced fee of $50.

 
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