Texas Child Support FAQ
WHAT IS CHILD SUPPORT, AND WHO PAYS FOR IT?
When couples who have had a child together separate, both parents remain obligated to financially support the needs of their children. The parent the child stays with over 50% of the time is considered the “custodial parent,” or “obligee.” The parent who does not live with the child is called the “noncustodial parent,” or “obligor.” The “noncustodial parent,” or “obligor,” is asked to pay child support, according to the statute, unless both parents agree to forego the child support obligation.
HOW IS CHILD SUPPORT DETERMINED?
Texas has established guidelines for determining child support. You can review this FindLaw outline to get a better understanding of what is considered. These can have extenuating circumstances, and it is best discussed with an attorney. If you have any questions, please call The Law Firm of Joseph Lassen at +1-210-625-6540.
HOW LONG DO I HAVE TO PAY CHILD SUPPORT?
The noncustodial parent has a legal obligation to pay child support until the child turns 18 or until the child graduates from high school. For a child with certain disabilities, the payment schedule never ceases. However, the obligation can be terminated when a child gets married, joins the military or becomes legally emancipated.
WHAT DOES CHILD SUPPORT COVER?
Child support is intended to cover the basic needs of the child in combination with the custodial parent’s financial support. Child support can also cover things such as:
- Educational costs and school supplies
- Extracurricular activities
- Travel and entertainment
- Amounts for participating in religious activities
- And any other expenses involved with raising a child
HOW DO I MAKE CHILD SUPPORT PAYMENTS?
Child support payments are made according to a schedule mutually agreed upon by the parents or decided by a Texas court. To ensure regular payments, the court can order the Texas State Disbursement Unit to collect the payments from the obligor and maintain an updated record. Payments may also be made directly to the custodial parent. However, by forwarding the amount to the Texas State Disbursement Unit, it will greatly reduce the probability of conflicts arising in the future. In most cases, a Texas court will also direct the obligor’s employer to withhold a part of their monthly payment to cover child support payments. This is done by what is known as an income withholding order.
WHAT IS BACK CHILD SUPPORT?
If the noncustodial parent misses child support payments, the unpaid amount is called back child support. Back child support payments can turn into confirmed child support arrears with a court order. These arrears can accumulate and be collected through legal actions of the custodial parent or the Texas Office of the Attorney General.
HOW IS CHILD SUPPORT CALCULATED IN TEXAS?
In the state of Texas, the amount of child support that a parent pays depends on their income. The child support guidelines in Texas are as follows:
- One child: 20% of the paying parent’s income
- Two children: 25% of the income
- Three children: 30% of the income
- Four children: 35% of the income
- Five or more children: 40% of the income
To correctly determine net income for purposes of child support calculations, certain deductions are considered. These deductions include health insurance for the children, taxes, Social Security and Medicare. Depending on factors such as whether the parent is an hourly employee or salaried employee, or whether the parent frequently receives overtime compensation or bonuses, calculations can be based on paystubs, W-2s or tax returns.
CAN THE AMOUNT OF CHILD SUPPORT PAYMENTS CHANGE?
Child support orders can be modified if circumstances change or if enough time passes. To qualify for a modification of child support within three years of a court order, the person asking for the change must be able to show that the circumstances of the child, or either parent, have substantially changed since the initial order was created. Typical examples include loss of employment or a substantial increase in income. If three or more years have passed since the previous order, either parent is automatically entitled to a child support review. It is highly recommended to consult with an attorney to successfully implement any change in child support payments as only a court can change the amount of child support. Regardless of any verbal agreements, you are required to pay the amount that was originally ordered.
WHAT IF THE NONCUSTODIAL PARENT, OR OBLIGOR, DOESN’T PAY CHILD SUPPORT?
A parent who does not pay child support can be subject to any of the following methods of collection:
- Wage garnishment
- Collection of lottery winnings
- Interception and deduction from federal income tax refunds
- Suspension or revocation of driver’s licenses, professional or business licenses, gaming licenses
- Suspension of passport
- Contempt of court orders, which can result in prison time, fines or both
- Liens against property, cars, bank accounts, retirement plans and other assets
DO I STILL HAVE TO PAY CHILD SUPPORT IF I AM DENIED ACCESS TO MY CHILD?
I HAVE BEEN SERVED WITH PAPERS FROM THE OFFICE OF THE ATTORNEY GENERAL FOR CHILD SUPPORT. WHAT DO I DO NOW?
You need an immediate consultation from an attorney. Even if you are in total agreement with each thing the Office of the Attorney General is offering, you still need to make sure that your rights are protected.
I HAVE BEEN SERVED WITH PAPERS FROM THE OFFICE OF THE ATTORNEY GENERAL, AND I DO NOT THINK THAT THIS CHILD IS MINE. WHAT DO I DO NOW?
It is imperative that you immediately consult with an attorney regarding your rights. A paternity test should be demanded in the interim. Further, if the child is yours, you can feel as if you are starting “behind the mark” after the request for paternity. Often times, the mother of the child becomes more defensive when a request for testing is demanded and will work hard to make sure you have little to no visitation if the child is determined to be legitimately yours. Don’t start behind the mark if you have legitimate concerns. Contact The Law Firm of Joseph Lassen today.
BOTH PARENTS HAVE AGREED TO NO CHILD SUPPORT; SO WHY IS THE OFFICE OF THE ATTORNEY GENERAL STILL PURSUING CHILD SUPPORT?
The Office of the Attorney General does not represent either party nor does it represent the child in court. The Office of the Attorney General represents only one entity, and that is the state. Their interest is recouping any funds that are being paid out in state benefits. These include any type of welfare, including but not limited to food stamps, TANF or any other kind of welfare payout by the government. They also include state-covered health insurance, such as Medicaid or CHIPS. Therefore, if either party is receiving these types of benefits (especially the custodial parent), the state will eventually pursue recuperation of those funds. Back to top of page For any other questions you may have, please contact The Law Firm of Joseph Lassen at +1-210-625-6540 for a free consultation or send your questions.