Texas Child Support FAQs

When navigating the complex terrain of divorce, especially when children are involved, questions and concerns about child support are often at the forefront of parent’s minds. It’s not uncommon for misconceptions to meddle with parent’s perceptions of each other and post-divorce arrangements. One common misconception is that child support is solely for covering basic needs like food and clothing, when in reality, it’s put in place to contribute to a child’s overall well-being, including various aspects of the lives such as:

  • Education
  • Healthcare
  • Extracurricular activities

Another myth is that child support ends once the child reaches the age of majority, which is typically 18, but in many jurisdictions in Texas, support can extend through until the completion of higher education or until the child becomes financially independent. There’s a misconception that child support is only paid by the noncustodial parent, disregarding the fact that both parents typically bear financial responsibility for their children. We aim to dispel these and other misconceptions, as well as answer the most common child support questions. Through this, we hope to provide clarity and ensure that child support arrangements serve the best interests of the children involved.

Wondering about Texas child support laws or how child support works in Texas? Contact our Austin Child Support lawyer near you at 512-748-0834 for a Free Consultation.

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What Are Texas Child Support Laws?

The guidelines and laws for child support in Texas are outlined in Chapter 154 of the Texas Family Code. This part of the Texas Family Code serves as the guide for creating court-ordered child support agreements, providing a structured framework for determining an appropriate amount of child support payment in accordance with the best interests of the child. This includes viewing various sources of income of both patients, determining the cost of living and activities for children involved, and what the child custody agreement is.

Texas child custody laws also set strict guidelines for handling non-payment of child support . The state takes this very seriously, with strict repercussions in place for those who do not pay their child support. Failure to fulfill child support obligations can result in severe legal and collateral consequences, including the possibility of incarceration. According to Texas law, parents who neglect or refuse to make child support payments risk facing contempt of court charges, which can carry a penalty of up to six months in jail. Recent legislative changes have also implemented other consequences through Senate Bill 870, which was enacted on September 1, 2023. This bill empowers judges to legally require parents who are delinquent in payments to actively seek employment or participate in community employment programs.

The repercussions of not paying child support also extend beyond legal consequences, as falling behind on child support payments can impact various aspects of an individual’s life, including being unable to register a vehicle in the state of Texas. Thus, adhering to child support obligations is not only a legal duty, but also vital for ensuring the well-being of children and avoiding significant legal and collateral ramifications.

How Does Child Support Work In Texas?

Child support in Texas works within a framework that considers the unique circumstances of each family. While the specifics of each child support case may vary depending on individual situations, they generally adhere to the same overarching guidelines set forth by the state. The child support process is typically the same for each family, with room to create unique child support agreements within each step of that process. The process for setting up child support in Texas is as follows:

  1. Establishing Paternity – Establishing legal fatherhood, or paternity, is an important step in some child support cases, especially when child support is being requested outside of the divorce process. When paternity is established, it builds both an emotional bond and a legal relationship between fathers and their children.
  2. Establish a Court Order – Once paternity is confirmed, a child support order is then established. When this happens, the amount of child support is determined while considering the amount of child, medical, and dental support the noncustodial parent must pay each month. In Texas, these child support and custody orders also address conservatorship (custody) and visitation time.
  3. Collect Child Support – The Child Support Division handles the implementation, collection, and disbursement of child support payments in Texas. Various methods are available for parents in Texas to make or receive child support payments.
  4. Enforce Child Support – In cases where a parent fails to meet their child support obligations, or refuses to make payments, the Child Support Division has various resources and methods available, including court enforcement, to ensure compliance with the court order.

How Is The Amount Of Child Support Determined in Texas?

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Child support amounts in Texas are determined by using a structured guideline that takes into account the number of children involved and the net monthly income of the parent that will be paying child support. Typically, child support orders are established by a judge as part of custody and visitation agreements during divorce proceedings or when paternity is established. However, parents can agree on child support amounts outside of court, but these agreements must still be approved by a judge before they are considered legal. This is required to ensure they serve the best interests of the child.

The Texas Family Code Chapter 154 provides a clear formula that Texas courts use for calculating child support. There is also a Texas child support calculator that helps parents get an estimate for their monthly child support payments as well. It starts at 20% of the net monthly income of the paying parent for one child and increases per additional child up to 40% for five or more children. This guideline helps maintain consistency and fairness when determining child support amounts across the state. Additionally, the court may also consider special circumstances when determining child support, This can include medical needs or disabilities of the child, which allows for adjustments to the standard guideline to accommodate these specific requirements the child needs.

Navigating child support laws in Texas can be complex, particularly when special circumstances like medical care or a child’s unique needs come into play. Consulting with a knowledgeable child support attorney, such as Eric M. Willie, is crucial to ensuring that the child’s needs are adequately met and that any child support agreements reached are legally sound and enforceable. Whether through court-ordered determinations or self negotiated settlements, the goal of child support always remains the same – to provide financial support for a child that prioritizes their well-being and best interests.

How Do I Pay Child Support In Texas?

Parents in Texas have several options available to them when it comes to fulfilling their child support obligations by paying on time. These options provide flexibility in how support payments can be made.

  • Paycheck Deduction – Noncustodial parents who are employed can have child support payments automatically deducted from their paycheck if they choose so. However, paying parents who fail to fulfill their child support obligations may have their paychecks garnished in order to make up for lost child support.
  • Check or Money Order – Payments can be submitted by check or money order to the State Disbursement Unit (SDU). Any checks or money orders made directly to the receiving parent are considered gifts, and will not count towards child support payments.
  • Online – Parents can make child support payments online through the Texas Office of the Attorney General (OAG) website. The OAG will keep track of payment records, and it also provides access to payment history through their online platform.

When Do You Stop Paying Child Support In Texas?

Terminating child support in Texas isn’t solely within the discretion of the custodial or noncustodial parent. Ending child support payments requires a court order to officially cease payments. While the custodial parent can initiate the process by petitioning the court, the decision ultimately depends on what is determined to be in the child’s best interest.

It’s important to know that there are specific circumstances defined by Texas law under which child support can be terminated. For instance, child support may be terminated if the child:

  • Passes away
  • Becomes financially independent through marriage or military enlistment,
  • Completes high school and turns 18 (whichever occurs later)

If the noncustodial parent’s parental rights are legally terminated, this can also lead to the termination of child support payments. In some cases, if both parents mutually agree, and they receive court approval from the court regarding their agreement, child support may be voluntarily terminated. It’s important to note that these rules may differ when dealing with child support for special needs children, as they often require financial assistance beyond the age of majority due to ongoing care needs.

Contact Our Austin, Texas Child Support Lawyer Near You

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Wondering about Texas child support laws or how child support works in Texas? Contact our Austin Child Support attorney near you at 512-748-0834 for a Free Consultation.

If you have questions or concerns regarding child support in Texas, don’t hesitate to reach out to Eric M. Willie, an experienced and dedicated Austin child support lawyer. Our team is dedicated to assisting you and provide answers to any questions you may have. Whether you’re navigating initial child support arrangements, seeking modifications in child support amounts, or dealing with enforcement issues, we offer knowledgeable legal guidance tailored to your specific situation. Feel free to contact us for reliable legal support, knowledge, and advocacy in matters concerning child support in Texas.


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