Child Support Under Texas Family Law

Child support under Texas Family Law is not nearly as clear cut as many believe. The guidelines set down by Texas Family Law consider how many children are involved and whether other children are involved for whom a duty of support is owed, whether by court order or as the result of a new marriage or relationship.

There are many issues the court will consider in making child support decisions, such as

  • Do you have a child that is suffering with a disability?
  • If so, will this require support above the suggested guidelines?
  • Do you have a specially gifted child that will require child support payments above the guidelines, or do you have a child that would qualify for child support payments beyond your child’s 18th birthday?
  • Do you have usual and customary expenses for your child that are in excess of the typical guidelines for child support payments?

Fairness under Texas Family Law

At times, demands for payments by the custodial parent seem unreasonable. And sometimes, the Texas child support guidelines do not seem fair, either.
There are caps on the amount of child support that is required to be paid in Texas, unless facts are presented that support a claim for child support above the guidelines.

Chris Spofford can help you understand what is deemed “fair” under Texas Family Law and what is “not fair.”

Texas child support guidelines

Child support in Texas is intended for the benefit of the child(ren) only and has nothing to do with spousal support. That is a separate issue entirely.
Texas Family Law provides a specific calculation to determine how much the obligor (noncustodial parent) must pay. The amount is generally based on a percentage of the noncustodial parent’s income, minus certain taxes and other income withholding obligations.

Standard Child Support Guidelines

Child support amounts are based on a percentage of the monthly net resources of the obligor and the number of children:

20 percent One child
25 percent Two children
30 percent Three children
35 percent Four children
40 percent Five children
Not less than the amount for five Six or more

Note: These guidelines apply to situations in which the obligor’s monthly net resources are no greater than $8,550 (the original amount was monthly net resources of no greater than $7,500, however, that amount has been adjusted for inflation, something that is done every 6 years).

When an obligor has other child support obligations for other children, including a child of a current marriage or relationship, that can affect these percentages.

Health insurance requirement

In Texas, parents are required to provide health care coverage, including dental coverage in most situations, for their children. The court can order either one of the parents to enroll a child on an existing policy. Most often, the child support obligor (person paying the support) is required to either enroll the child in a plan or to reimburse the primary custodian of the child the cost of the health care coverage.

Child support modifications

Circumstances change and when they do, a child support order can be modified. Changes in either party’s financial situation can trigger a possible modification, the obligor (paying party) or the receiving party. Job loss or illness are two examples that can impact the ability of one party to pay child support or the other party’s need for more support.

Child Support Enforcement Actions in Texas

If the child support obligor fails to meet his or her obligation in paying any or all of the support that has been ordered and the child support obligor has moved out of the state, it may become necessary for the custodial parent to pursue enforcement of child support in the state to which the obligor has moved. By the same token, if a child support obligor whose child support order was issued in another state has moved to Texas, the child support obligation may need to be enforced in Texas.

In the event that the obligor begins to late-pay or short-pay child support, Texas provides very specific remedies, including garnishment of wages, to enforce payments. At the same time, Texas requires “due process,” which provides some protection for the paying party.

Due process means that all parties must be given notice of any enforcement proceeding and be given the opportunity to fully participate in that case, including presenting their case to the proper court or other tribunal. Just because an enforcement has been filed against an obligor does not mean that everything contained in the enforcement pleading is true and accurate. In such a situation the child support obligor would be given an opportunity to make their case to the Judge as to why all or part of what is being asked by the custodial parent should not be granted.

The Office of the Attorney General (AG) Child Support Division (website) is the official child support enforcement agency in Texas. It assists parents with enforcement actions but it cannot represent a parent involved in a child support claim.

The first step is filing a Motion for Enforcement of the child support court order, including dates of missed payments, the amount of each missed or short-paid payments.

Interest accrues on past-due payments (arrears) at the rate of Six Percent (6%) per year until the entire amount of arrears is paid in full. In most instances, interest begins to accrue on past-due payments as soon as the payment is late, even by one day.

Texas Family Law Attorney

You need an attorney who can help you understand whether or not the court is likely to view child support demands as reasonable — and give you guidance that you can trust.

Contact Chris Spofford to learn about your family law options and how he can help you with your choices; he will fight for Texas child support that is fair and reasonable for you and for your child.

Chris A. Spofford has been preparing and trying child support cases since he was admitted to the Texas State Bar in 1986. He has been Board Certified in Family Law since 1993. As a Houston divorce lawyer, he knows how to present a child support case in local courts so that your important message gets communicated and gives you the greatest chance of prevailing. He will help you get what is in your child’s best interest. Chris knows that the decisions made now are ones that will affect your children’s lives and your life for many years to come. He never takes this lightly. He will fight for you and he will guide you through the complex legal maze.

Child Support Guidelines

Texas Family Law provides specific guidelines for child support.

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