What you should know about Texas’ child support laws

Texas has several laws in place that determine who will pay child support and how much those payments are.

Both parents in Texas are expected to financially support a child. It sounds simple in theory, but this is an issue that can grow complicated based on custody, the earning capacity of each parent and other circumstances.

People who are facing a situation in which child support payments will arise should be aware of what the law states. Further, they should know how the local government is able to enforce a court order and how long these payments could last.

Who pays support?

Typically, the non-custodial parent makes child support payments to the parent with whom the child or children live. However, a court has the ability to order both parents to pay support or otherwise make financial contributions to the child's well-being. Support payments address costs that include health insurance, food, clothing, shelter and other basics the court feels are necessary.

How is support determined?

Texas does have some guidelines in place when determining how much child support is necessary. For example, a parent who has no other children besides the ones in question will be expected to pay the following:

  • 20 percent of his or her average monthly net income for one child
  • 25 percent for two children
  • 30 percent for three children
  • 35 percent for four children
  • 40 percent for five children
  • No less than for percent if there are six or more children involved in the proceeding

These percentages are slightly lower if the parent in question has children besides those involved in the current proceeding.

How long does child support last?

Texas law states that child support payments only end when one of the following conditions is met: when a marriage emancipates the child; the child dies; or the later of when the child turns 18 or graduates high school. If the child is disabled, payments could last for an indefinite period of time.

How are child support orders enforced?

The Texas Attorney General's Office is tasked with enforcing mandated child support payments. The office helps families establish paternity, locate fathers and collect and distribute money. When someone is delinquent, the office can order wage garnishments or intercept lottery winnings and federal tax refunds to secure the money. It can also file a lawsuit against the parent, file liens against certain assets and even suspend someone's professional, hunting, or driver's license.

Despite the guidelines in place, there is still room for customization when it comes to child support payments. Every family has its own unique needs an circumstances. Anyone who has concerns about this topic should speak with a family law attorney in Texas.