Divorce or separation can shake even the sturdiest relationships, but amidst these changes, your commitment to your children is paramount. From this perspective, child support is not merely a financial contribution; it’s an affirmation of your dedication to their futures. Therefore, it’s essential to know how child support works in Texas, whether you’re the paying spouse or the one receiving money.
At Balekian Hayes, PLLC, our Dallas child support lawyers understand the challenges in unraveling Texas’s child support laws. We also know how vital it is to grasp how the child support system works and how to obtain the financial resources you need for your children. We hope this guide answers your questions and provides some clarity.
Which Parent Pays Child Support in Texas?
The Texas Family Code says the courts may order either parent or both to provide financial support for children from a relationship. Most of the time, the parent who does not have primary custody of the children will pay child support to the custodial parent. Furthermore, there is no legal requirement that a child’s father must pay support to their mother, or vice-versa.
How Long Does It Take to Get Child Support in Texas?
Getting child support in Texas can take several weeks or months, though the specific time frame varies from case to case. While it can take a while to get child support in Texas, the courts can order the paying parent to pay retroactive support to account for the time spent going through the legal process. According to the state Office of the Attorney General, here are the basic steps to obtain child support:
- Establishing Paternity: Before the state will issue any child support order, it’s essential to legally identify the child’s parents, particularly if the child’s birth certificate does not list their father. If the child’s legal father has not been identified, the courts may order DNA testing to confirm the child’s biological parents. Once confirmed, the state can add the father’s name to the child’s birth certificate, allowing child support proceedings to commence.
- Submitting a Child Support Application: In Texas, the Office of the Attorney General’s Child Support Division handles child support applications and enforces child support orders. Therefore, anyone seeking child support must apply through this agency. You can do this either online or through traditional mail. The application will require detailed information about both parents, including their financial situations, employment status, and any existing agreements related to the child. Be thorough and precise—this information is pivotal in determining support amounts.
- Receiving Payments through the Child Support Division: Texas parents paying child support do not pay the child’s other parent directly. Instead, they submit payments to the Child Support Division, which then disburses payments to the proper recipients. Recipient parents can receive their money through direct deposit or a Texas Payment Card. This approach streamlines the process and minimizes potential conflicts.
- Enforcing Child Support Orders: If a non-custodial parent is not making their child support payments on time or not paying the correct amount, the custodial parent can ask the Child Support Division for help enforcing the order. The Child Support Division has various tools to ensure compliance with child support orders. These include suspending the delinquent parent’s driver’s license, revoking or denying passport renewals, and even placing liens against the parent’s assets.
How Much in Child Support Will You Receive?
In Texas, the courts have the ultimate authority regarding how much a parent must pay in child support. The Texas Family Code includes a formula for how much a parent should pay in most cases. Here’s how the formula works, depending on how many children the paying parent is supporting:
- One child: 20 percent of the payor spouse’s net resources
- Two children: 25 percent of the payor spouse’s net resources
- Three children: 30 percent of the payor spouse’s net resources
- Four children: 35 percent of the payor spouse’s net resources
- Five children: 40 percent of the payor spouse’s net resources
- Six or more children: At least the amount allocated for five children
What “Net Resources” Means
But what exactly falls under “net resources?” The courts will look at multiple factors to determine the paying spouse’s available resources, including:
- Wage and salary income, including commission, overtime, tips, and bonuses
- Interest, dividends, and royalty
- Self-employment income
- Net rental income
- Severance pay, retirement benefits, pensions, trust income, annuities
- Social Security benefits
- VA disability benefits
- Interest income
- Workers’ comp benefits
- Spousal maintenance/alimony
Is There a Cap on Child Support Payments?
Texas has an established ceiling for the monthly resources used to calculate child support payment amounts. Currently, that threshold is $9,200 per month. So, a parent paying child support with that much in net resources would pay 20 percent of that amount if they are supporting one child. That figure works out to $1,840 per month. However, it’s crucial to be aware of some important caveats.
For starters, the Texas Family Code specifies that this cap on monthly net resources changes every six years to account for inflation and other factors. The most recent modification took place in 2019.
Furthermore, judges have the authority to go beyond this cap in scenarios where the paying parent has an expansive financial portfolio. If you want a precise calculation or are curious about potential changes, a child support attorney is your best resource.
How Long Do Child Support Payments Last in Texas?
Child support payments in Texas typically last until a child turns 18 or graduates high school, whichever comes first. There are some rare exceptions to this rule, and a Dallas child support lawyer can tell you more about them.
Need Child Support in Dallas, Texas? Call Us Now
As experienced child support lawyers in Dallas, the Balekian Hayes team can protect your rights during these delicate proceedings. We can take care of establishing paternity, submitting your child support application, enforcing an existing order, or whatever other help you need. Call (214) 828-2800 or complete our contact form for a confidential consultation.