FAQ: Child Support in Texas

Child support is one of those aspects of family law that unfortunately suffers from a lot of confusion and misconception. Many people have many questions about what child support is, when it’s needed, how much it can cost, how long it can last, and more

Our goal here is to address some of the most common questions we get from our clients as well as those we see and hear asked by the general public when it comes to child support.

If you feel you need counsel to address your unique legal question, you can always reach out to one of our capable attorneys at Rodriguez & Gimbert, P.L.L.C. for help.

What Is Child Support For?

Child support is a payment a noncustodial parent makes to contribute toward a child’s necessary expenses. Such expenses can include food, shelter, clothing, medical care, education, and other necessities. Because the custodial parent spends more time with their child, they would otherwise be financially burdened by these expenses without child support.

How Is Child Support Calculated in Texas?

The courts use a set of “guidelines” to calculate how much child support a noncustodial parent should pay.

This calculation begins by determining the parent’s net monthly income. If the net income is less than $9,200, the court will assess the number of children relevant to the child support lawsuit and assign a percentage of the income accordingly.

These percentages of a parent’s monthly net income break down as follows:

  • 1 child = 20% of net monthly income
  • 2 children = 25% of net monthly income
  • 3 children = 30% of net monthly income
  • 4 children = 35% of net monthly income
  • 5 children = 40% of net monthly income
  • 6+ children = No less than 40% of net monthly income

If a parent makes more than $9,200 net monthly income, child support is determined by the same means as described above, but just for the first $9,200 of the parent’s net income.

Can Child Support Exceed These Guidelines?

Yes. The guidelines above calculate the minimum amount of child support a parent must pay, but they are not absolute limits.

If the parent receiving child support can successfully demonstrate that a child has “proven needs” that cost an amount beyond the minimum amount of child support provided by the guidelines, then the court can factor this additional amount into the total child support obligation.

Is There a Cap on Child Support in Texas?

Yes. As alluded to above, the maximum amount of a parent’s net monthly income that can be considered for child support purposes is $9,200. This effectively places a cap on the amount of child support the courts can order.

For example, if child support is being calculated for one child and a parent makes $10,000 in net monthly income, their child support payments will be $1,840 per month because that amount is 20% of the $9,200 cap. The remaining $800 of the parent’s net income isn’t factored into the calculation.

This maximum amount is reset by lawmakers every six years to account for inflation [Texas Family Code §154.125(a)(1)]. The last time it changed was on Sept. 1, 2019.

How Long Does Child Support Last?

For the most part, child support is temporary and can end under several different circumstances.

These circumstances include the following:

  • The child turns 18
  • The child graduates from high school
  • The child gets married
  • The child dies

If a child is either physically or mentally disabled, though, a parent’s child support obligation could last indefinitely if the disability isn’t overcome.

My Ex Isn’t Letting Me See My Child. Can I Withhold Child Support?

No. You must pay your child support according to the court order, even if your child’s other parent is failing to comply with another court order. Don’t try to take the law into your own hands! Consult with a family law attorney instead.

What Happens If I Don’t Pay Child Support?

Unpaid child support accrues at a 6% interest rate, which can quickly raise your debt. If you don’t pay off your debt quickly, enforcement actions can be used against you.

Enforcement can include garnishing up to 50% of your paycheck. Failing to pay child support in Texas is also a misdemeanor crime, punishable by up to 6 months in jail, a $500 fine, or both. If you hold any professional licenses, you can also lose these in addition to your driver’s license.

What Happens to Unpaid Child Support When My Obligation Ends?

You keep your debt until you pay it off. You must pay unpaid child support debt even if you are no longer required to make any future child support payments.

Can I File for Bankruptcy to Get Rid of Child Support Debt?

No. The only way to get rid of child support debt is to pay it off.

What Are the Tax Implications of Child Support?

At the federal and state levels, child support isn’t tax-deductible for the paying parent, and the receiving parent doesn’t have to report it as income.

Who Can Help Me with a Child Support-Related Issue?

If you are challenged by a legal matter involving child support, you should reach out to an experienced family law attorney for help. We at Rodriguez & Gimbert, P.L.L.C. can offer the legal support you need whether you’re a parent receiving or paying child support but experiencing a problem with this process.

If you have any additional questions or want to learn more about how we can help, contact us online.