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Texas Child Support FAQs

Q: How are Child Support Payments Determined in Texas?

Child support determinations are deeply intertwined with child custody and visitation arrangements.

Generally speaking, non-custodial parents, or obligors, make monthly child support payments to the custodial parent. Custodial parents are not usually the subjects of a child support court order because the court assumes they’re already making substantial contributions to their child’s care by providing food, clothing, shelter, and education.

In Texas, there is no minimum requirement for child support and child support orders are determined by a judge. It’s possible for parents to determine their own child support arrangements—but to have legal efficacy, these agreements must still prove to the court that they are in the best interest of the child and be formalized in an order approved by a judge.

Because all child support determinations must be court-approved, it’s extremely important to have a knowledgeable child support attorney involved in the creation of an agreement, even if a divorce is amicable.

Q: When Can You Deviate from Texas Child Support Guidelines?

In determining the amount of child support to be paid, the court’s main consideration is the best interest of the child.  The court bases its decisions to order less or more child support than the guidelines, by considering evidence of all relevant factors, including: 

  • The child’s age and needs
  • Parents’ financial resources and ability to pay
  • Amount of time the children spend in each parent’s care
  • If a parent is intentionally under or unemployed
  • Childcare expenses incident to a job
  • Whether a parent has conservatorship or physical custody of another child
  • Spousal support paid or received by a parent
  • The child’s college education and post-secondary school expenses
  • Housing, motor vehicle, and other benefits supplied to a parent by a third party
  • Other deductions from the income of a parent
  • Health insurance premiums, deductibles, and uninsured medical expenses
  • Special educational, health, or other issues that affect a child or a parent
  • Travel expenses associated with possession of and access to the child
  • Negative or positive cash flow that affects either parent’s liquidity
  • Debts assumed by a parent
  • Any other reason consistent with the best interest of the child, taking into account the circumstances of the parents 

Q: What Happens if You Don’t Pay Child Support in TX?

Child support orders are enforceable by law. Missing and making up the occasional payment won’t trigger immediate consequences, but repeated missed payments will result in serious repercussions including:

  • Liens against property
  • Wage garnishments
  • Seizure of federal and state tax refunds and/or lottery winnings
  • Suspension of driving, hunting, fishing, and professional licenses
  • Passport denial
  • Reporting of delinquent child support payments to credit bureaus
  • Contempt of court charges and service of a criminal warrant
  • Jail time

Q: Can Child Support Be Terminated in Texas?

Child support orders remain in force until a child becomes eighteen or graduates from high school, whichever is later. If a child is legally emancipated from their parents through marriage, joining the military, or petitioning the court, child support payments are terminated. Minors aren’t eligible for legal emancipation until age sixteen under Texas Family Code.

To formalize the termination of child support payments, an obligor must obtain an order terminating their child support obligation from the court that has jurisdiction over their child support matter.

Children with mental or physical disabilities that require consistent medical care may be eligible for child support payments indefinitely.

Q: How Child Support is Calculated?

The State of Texas uses a standardized formula to determine how much child support the non-custodial parent must pay the custodial parent. Here is how this calculation is done:

The court will determine a non-custodial parent’s monthly gross (pre-tax) income from wages and salary, interest, dividends, royalties, net rental income, self-employment income, and all other income actually received, including severance, retirement, pensions, trust income, annuities, capital gains, social security, unemployment, disability, and workers’ compensation.

The court will deduct social security taxes, federal income tax, state income tax, union dues, and health and dental insurance for the children (if applicable) to determine the non-custodial parent’s net monthly income. This net monthly income is then multiplied by a percentage based on the number of children to be supported, as shown below, to provide the monthly child support amount.

  • One child: 20% of net monthly income;
  • Two children: 25% of net monthly income;
  • Three children: 30% of net monthly income;
  • Four children: 35% of net monthly income;
  • Five children: 40% of net monthly income; or
  • Six or more children: not less than 40% of net monthly income.

For example, if a non-custodial parent’s gross monthly income minus all of the allowable deductions is $6,000 and there are three children to be supported, the non-custodial parent would have a monthly child support obligation of $1,800.

6000 x .3 = 1800

This calculation will change if the obligor is already required to pay child support for children from another relationship.

Q: How is Income Calculated?

Income for purposes of child support calculations includes 100 percent of wage and salary income(including commissions, overtime pay, tips, bonuses, profit-sharing), interest, dividends, royalty income, self-employment income, and net rental income.  A good family law attorney will point out that other income actually received , such as retirement benefits, pension benefits, trust income, annuities, social security, and unemployment benefits, etc. also constitute income. All income being received is taken into consideration for purposes of calculating child support.

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