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FAQs About
Child Support
In Texas

Frequently Asked Questions About Child Support in Texas

When do child support payments end in Texas?

In Texas, A noncustodial parent is required to pay child support until the child reaches the age of 18 or graduates from high school. In some instances, the court may order child support for an indefinite period. This can be the case if the child is physically or mentally disabled and requires long-term care. Child support can also end if the child marries, enlists in the military, or becomes legally emancipated. Some divorce settlements outline that the paying parent will agree to continue supporting a child through college. If you have questions about your child support agreement speak to one of our Texas family lawyers today!

How is child support paid in Texas?

Child support orders in Texas contain an income withholding order (IWO) that requires the paying parent’s employer to withhold the child support amount from the paying parent’s paycheck. The withheld funds are then sent to the state child support enforcement agency or a local registry. In turn, the agency will send payments to the recipient parent. When payments go through an agency it allows for there to be a record that payments were made.

Parents that are self-employed are required to make payments directly. Learn about failing to pay child support in Texas.

Can I go to jail for not paying child support in Texas?

Texas law does not take failure to pay child support lightly. Going to jail is a very real possibility for parents that fail or refuse to make their support payments. Not following a court order to pay child support can lead to a contempt of court judgment carrying a penalty of up to 6 months in jail. Texas Penal Code Sec. 25.05 outlines criminal nonsupport which is a state felony offense that can lead to a sentence of 6 months to 2 years in jail.

This statute states “An individual commits an offense if the individual intentionally or knowingly fails to provide support for the individual’s child younger than 18 years of age, or for the individual’s child who is the subject of a court order requiring the individual to support the child.

The Texas Attorney General even has a webpage dedicated to listing parents who are delinquent on their child support payments. The page includes the names, number of children, and amount owed by child support evaders.

If my ex doesn't let me see my children, am I still required to make support payments?

Yes, Texas law is clear that you are required to pay your support, even if the other parent denies visitation. The court will hold you in contempt for failure to pay. This is because in Texas child support and child visitation are treated separately. If you are being denied access to your children by your ex you should speak to one of our Texas family lawyers about pursuing a custody enforcement action.

Do I have to pay any unpaid support after my child legally becomes an adult?

One might think that once a child legally becomes an adult they are no longer liable for unpaid child support payments. This is incorrect. The state can still go after any unpaid child support. These payments will even increase over time as the state also charges interest on late payments.

How is child support calculated in Texas?

In 1989, Texas Legislators introduced statutory “guideline child support”. This set the percentage of net resources an obligor has to pay based upon the total number of children that the obligor has an obligation to legally support, and the number of children involved in the current case.  That percentage is then applied to the individual’s net resources.  The same guidelines for child support are still in effect today. 

The calculation of child support in Texas is a 5-Step Process:

1. Identify all sources of income of the individual ordered to pay child support.

2. Deduct all qualified items to determine net resources.

3. Determine the proper percentage for guideline support.

4. Evaluate additional factors that may allow for a deviation from guidelines.

5. Determine whether an automatic reduction in child support is applicable.

Read the details of each step in determining Texas child support payments or try our Texas child support calculator to get an idea of what your payments might look like.

Can I change the amount of child support I pay or recieve?

The amount of child support can only be changed through a court order. Either parent is able to request a modification of a child support order if their circumstances have changed. These changes can include becoming ill and unable to work, receiving a new higher-paying job, or loss of employment. Whatever the reason, the individual asking for a modification to court-ordered child support will need to show that circumstances have substantially changed in order to justify a modification to payments. Only the court can change the amount of child support owed.

Speak with one of our experienced Texas family lawyers today if you have questions concerning a child support modification.

How often are child support payments made?

How often child support payments are made is up to the discretion of the court. Sometimes, bi-weekly or monthly payments are ordered depending on each parents’ financial situation and children’s needs. However, judges can use more creative methods such as lump-sum payments or annuity purchases in order to make sure that the children get what they need with their parent’s finances available. Normally payment frequency depends on how often the non-custodial parent receives their paycheck as the payments are automatically withdrawn.

What should I do if I am having trouble paying child support?

If you are having trouble making your full child support payment, it is important to pay as much as you can toward your obligation every month. Unpaid child support has a 6% interest rate so it is important to pay as much as you can and consult with the child support division so they can work with you towards a resolution. It is important to remember that it is always better to pay something, rather than nothing.

Am I required to pay child support if I myself am a minor?

In Texas, being under 18 years of age does not waive one’s responsibility to financially support their children. Once a court order for child support is in place you are required to pay regardless of your age.

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