Last summer, we discussed how Texas’ child support laws calculate how much a noncustodial parent should pay. We also talked about how people whose jobs don’t involve a regular paycheck of the same amount every other week can have a more challenging time figuring out what they should pay to satisfy their obligation without also leaving them broke.

Jobs that don’t provide a steady paycheck

Many careers lead to regular, predictable income. But that isn’t true for everyone. Examples of jobs with irregular incomes include:

  • Independent contractors
  • Temporary workers
  • Freelance writers
  • Self-employed individuals
  • Salespeople who work on commission
  • Landscapers and other seasonal workers

These different types of work have one thing in common: some weeks (or months) they might make a lot of money, and some weeks (or months) they don’t. When your income fluctuates like this, it is hard to come up with a monthly child support payment that you can definitely afford and sufficiently covers your responsibility toward your children’s wellbeing.

What state law says

State child support guidelines say that a support payor should pay 20 percent of their net income per child. This refers to dependable income, so only things that involve predictable payments should be part of that net income. Say you have two jobs. One you spend working for a company 40 hours per week and get paid an hourly wage in a paycheck every other week.

The other is working for yourself on nights and weekends. You get paid when you sell one of your products online, and it is hard to predict what your sales will be month to month. Your attorney might advise you only to include your income from your 9-5 job in your child support payments.

As a parent, you want your kids to have everything they need to thrive, but you can’t get stuck with a child support order you cannot afford. If you and your co-parent are on reasonably good terms, you can work with your attorneys to negotiate child support that is fair and affordable for someone with irregular income. If not, it may be necessary to go to court to make your case.