Does mother’s income play a role in determining child support?

Question: Does the mother’s income ever play a role in how support, maintenance or medical bills are handled?

When the mother’s income is exponentially larger than the father’s is this ever considered?



In general, yes. This is because the amount of each parent’s child support is usually a proportionate share of that parent’s income in relation to both parents’ income for each overnight. Most states have mandatory or recommended child support formulas to calculate this amount.

The formulas vary by state, but the general concept – each parent should be responsible for support – does not. There is no such thing as a “free pass” to mothers. Since the 1960s, in fact, states have by statute or case law required courts to treat mothers and fathers alike. The same is true for custody decisions. Some states will allow parents to motion for or consensually opt-out of the statutory amount under certain conditions. Most states will also consider actual income, not just wages, to compute child support. Actual income includes rental income, reasonable returns on investments, “under the table” cash payments for work, regular work-related bonuses, and the anticipated diversion of this income to pay regular expenses, such as housing and medical expenses. The degree to which a parent can successfully argue his income is less than what the state thinks, or the other parent’s is more than what the state thinks and/or the parent reports, depends on thorough research and good arguments pinned to case law.

You should raise your concerns with your attorney, or consult with an attorney in your state if you do not have one, to determine what research you will need to conduct. For example, a request for the other parent’s W-2s, employee file (reflecting bonuses), bank and credit card records, and employment history is a good start, but only a start, to comparing reported income with actual income for child support purposes.

Keep in mind that I am a Michigan attorney and cannot give you detailed advice about the laws in Texas. I can only give you general information in this answer. You should not rely on this answer as establishing an attorney-client relationship, and you should contact an attorney in your area immediately if you need additional information or legal representation, as most parties in divorces do. Cordell & Cordell has offices in Dallas and Fort Worth, Texas.


Jennifer M. Paine is an Associate Attorney in the Detroit, Michigan office of Cordell & Cordell P.C. She is licensed to practice in Michigan, and has been admitted pro hac vice in Illinois, Ohio, and the United States Court of Federal Claims. Ms. Paine received her BA in English and Mathematics from Albion College and graduated Summa Cum Laude. She received her Juris Doctorate from MSU College of Law and graduated Summa Cum Laude.

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