Child Support in Texas

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Child Support in Texas

In Texas, a minor has a statutory right to parental support, and matters involving child support, including medical support, are primarily governed by statute. However, because courts are granted discretion in establishing and enforcing child support obligations, practices may vary by court, by judge, or by the circumstances of each case. A Texas family law attorney from Cynthia Tracy, Attorney at Law, P.C. in Houston, Texas, can work with you to resolve your child support matter.

Texas Child Support Guidelines

In Texas, child support is informed by the Texas family code support guidelines and is calculated based on the monthly net resources of the parties and the number of children, and it is expressed as a percentage of the paying parent's (obligor's) net resources. Family Code § 154.125(b). If justified, a court may order periodic child support payments in an amount other than that established by the guidelines if application of the guidelines is not in the best interest of the child. (See Texas Family Code § 154.123.) When rendering a support order that varies from the amount established by the guidelines, a court considers evidence of all relevant factors, including the:

  • Age and needs of the child
  • Ability of the parents to contribute to the support of the child
  • Financial resources available for the support of the child
  • Amount of time of possession of and access to a child
  • Amount of the obligee's net resources
  • Child care expenses
  • Amount of alimony or spousal maintenance actually and currently being paid or received by a party
  • Expenses for a son or daughter for education beyond secondary school
  • Special or extraordinary educational, health care, or other expenses of the parties or of the child
  • Cost of travel in order to exercise possession of and access to a child

Child Support Orders

Basic Requirements

A parent-child relationship must exist before a Texas court may order child support. A child support order must be definite and certain and must not be ambiguous. The basic requirements for child support orders are as follows:

  • Best interest of the children: In Texas, courts must decide matters involving child support based on the best interest of the children.
  • Other family obligations: The duty to pay child support is not relieved simply because the parent who has a duty to pay child support has other family obligations such as children from another relationship.
  • Sex or marital status: The amount of support ordered for the benefit of a child shall be determined without regard to the sex of the obligor, obligee, or child and without regard to the marital status of the parents. (See Texas Family Code § 154.002.)
  • Income withholding: When periodic payments of child support are ordered, modified, or enforced, the order should direct that the obligor's income be withheld. (See Texas Family Code § 154.002(a).) A child support order that does not contain a withholding provision will be construed to contain such a provision. (See Texas Family Code § 154.002(c).)
  • Retroactive child support orders: In certain situations, the court may order retroactive child support. (See Texas Family Code § 154.009.)
  • Paid from parent's own funds: Typically, a parent must use his or her own funds to meet child support obligations; however, where the parent lacks the financial resources to provide support, a child support order may require payments from the child's estate.

Manner of Payment

The court may order that child support be paid by periodic payments, a lump-sum payment, an annuity purchase, the setting aside of property to be administered for the support of the child as specified in the order, or any combination thereof. Family Code § 154.002.

Duration of Child Support Obligation

The conditions under which the obligation to pay child support terminates can be established in a written agreement of the parties or in an express order of the court. Family Code § 154.006. In general, the obligation to pay child support lasts until the:

  • Marriage of the child
  • Removal of the child's disabilities for general purposes
  • Death of the child or obligor (parent ordered to pay child support)
  • Child's 18th birthday

Child support may also be ordered beyond the child's 18th birthday if the child is enrolled in a qualified educational institution or program and meeting certain requirements. Additionally, requests to extend support through the child's high school graduation may be filed before or after the child's 18th birthday, and a support order for periodic payments require payments through the end of the month in which the child graduates. Family Code § 154.002.

If you have additional questions concerning child support or medical support, please feel free to contact a lawyer from Cynthia Tracy, Attorney at Law, P.C. in Houston, Texas, today to schedule a consultation.

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