Child Support in Texas: 10 Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
In Texas, parents have a responsibility to provide financial support for their children. Following a divorce or separation, the parent without primary possession of the kid may have been required to make child support payments to their former spouse/partner. How much child support must be paid in Texas depends on a number of factors, including the income of the parents.
At Thornton Esquire Law Group, PLLC, we provide comprehensive family law representation to clients. Our legal team is focused on ensuring that you have the tools, information, and resources to protect your family. Here, our Houston child support lawyer answers 10 of the most frequently asked questions (FAQs) about child support in Texas.
Texas has standard child support guidelines in place. Should a legal dispute over child support arise, a Texas court will presume that the state’s standardized guidelines are appropriate. The key variables are the number of kids being supported and the income of the parent who is paying support. The general guidelines for child support in Texas are as follows:
- 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.
- Six Children: At least 40% of net monthly income.
Yes. While Texas law presumes that the child support guidelines apply to any case, the law also allows courts to make deviations from those guidelines when deemed necessary to produce a fair and equitable outcome. As an example, a Texas court may allow for a deviation from the standard guidelines of a child who has a unique medical condition.
Yes. Many divorcing or separating parents in Texas are able to reach their own voluntary child support settlement. As a general rule, Texas courts give parents considerable leeway to work out their own agreement. If you are negotiating a child support settlement, an experienced Houston child support lawyer can help.
Under Texas law (Tex. Fam. Code § 154.001(1)), a non-custodial parent’s support obligations typically last until “until the child is 18 years of age or until graduation from high school, whichever occurs later.” In other words, child support obligations end for most children when they graduate high school. However, it can last longer if a child graduates before his or her 18th birthday.
Yes—though, this only happens in a relatively narrow set of circumstances. Most often, long-term child support will be required if a child has a severe mental or physical disability that had already developed prior to his or her 18th birthday. If you have any questions about extended child support for a disabled child, an experienced Houston child support lawyer can help.
Yes. In Texas, child support obligations can be modified if there has been a “material and substantial” change in circumstances. To be clear, a court will not alter a child support order or child support settlement simply because one parent is dissatisfied with the current arrangement. There must have been an unanticipated change in circumstances.
As explained by the Attorney General of Texas, the term “material and substantial” change of circumstances can include any of the following in the context of a child support case:
- A significant increase or decrease in income for the non-custodial parent;
- A change in the number of children the non-custodial parent is supporting;
- A change in the child’s health insurance coverage; or
- A change in the child’s living arrangement.
Notably, child support can be modified in either direction. A modification could result in either an increase or decrease in monthly child support payments.
A parent who is owed child support in Southeast Texas has a right to take action to collect. The best collection option depends on the specific circumstances of the case. Depending on your situation, you may be able to collect on past due child support through:
- A settlement;
- Wage garnishment;
- Bank account lien; or
- Tax refund intercept.
Texas authorities may also take additional action to address the matter and encourage payment, including suspending the driver’s license of the delinquent parent or potentially even golding them in contempt of court.
If you owe back due child support in Texas, you have several potential options available. It is imperative that you take proactive steps to resolve the issue. The longer that delinquent child support goes unaddressed, the more challenging it will be to catch up. You may be entitled to a reduction in payments through a child support modification. Alternatively, a payment plan may be available under Texas law. Consult with an attorney for immediate help.
If you are going through a child support case in Southeast Texas, it is crucial that you have a reliable Houston family law attorney on your side. With deep experience helping parents solve a wide range of child support cases, our founding attorney Rahlita D. Thornton has the legal expertise and professional experience that you can count on.
At Thornton Esquire Law Group, PLLC, Houston family law handles all types of child support matters. If you have any specific questions or concerns about child support, we can help. Call us at (713) 401-3998 or reach out via this online contact form to arrange a free initial family law consultation. From our main law office in Houston and our secondary appointment-only location in Sugar Land, we handle child support cases throughout all of Southeast Texas.