Child Support


Child Support Common Questions

How is child support calculated in Texas?
Child support in Texas is calculated as 20 percent of the non-custodial parent's net monthly income for the first child. For each additional child, the number increases by 5 percent. Here is the breakdown:
  • 1 child: 20 percent of non-custodial parent's net income
  • 2 children: 25 percent of net income
  • 3 children: 30 percent of net income
  • 4 children: 35 percent of net income
  • 5+ children: 40 percent of net income.
Texas family courts do not often require a parent to pay more than 50 percent of their net income on child support.

Does my ex-spouse's income affect how much I have to pay in child support?
In Texas, your ex's income will likely have no bearing on how much you are ordered to pay in child support. The court will stay within the guidelines of what is mandated by the Texas Family Code, which is 20 percent of the non-custodial parent's net income for one child.

Will child support be garnished from my paycheck?
Most court orders for child support now include an automatic withholding order, which means the money will be taken directly out of your paycheck. If you are self-employed, you may have to send in child support payments yourself.

What is medical support for a child?
In Texas, medical support is health insurance for a child. The non-custodial parent is usually responsible for providing medical support. If the non-custodial parent does not have health insurance available through their job, they may be required to purchase a separate policy for the child. If the non-custodial parent is unemployed or cannot afford a health insurance policy, the custodial parent may be responsible for providing medical support.

Can I go to jail for failing to pay child support?
Yes, you can go to jail if you fail to pay child support. If the judge finds that you purposely failed to pay child support in violation of a court order, you could be found in contempt of court and sentenced to up to six months in jail.

The Texas Attorney General's Office also has a unit dedicated to finding and prosecuting parents who do not pay child support. You can be arrested for failing to pay child support and charged with "criminal nonsupport." If convicted, you would face six months to two years in a state jail facility and a maximum $10,000 fine.

Will I lose my license if I do not pay child support?
It is certainly possible. If you fail to pay child support, your driver's license can be suspended - and any other license you hold in Texas, including a hunting or fishing license.

Do I have to pay child support if I lose my job?
Yes, you are required to pay child support, even if you lost your job. However, you may be able to request a modification of your child support order if you are unemployed. The court will consider the following factors when making a decision:
  • The noncustodial parent's current employment status;
  • Whether the noncustodial parent is actively looking for work;
  • The amount of time that the noncustodial parent has been unemployed;
  • The noncustodial parent's financial resources and ability to pay child support.
  • If you are unemployed, you should still pay child support to the best of your ability. The court may order you to pay a portion of your unemployment benefits as child support. If you have any questions about your child support payments, you should contact an experienced family law attorney.

Do I have to pay child support if I have 50/50 custody?
If you share 50/50 custody with your ex, it is possible you may not have to pay child support. It depends on your court order and whether both sides agreed that no child support should be paid. However, if one parent has a higher income than the other, the court may order the higher wage earner to pay some support to the lower wage earner.

Can my spouse and I agree that neither party will pay child support?
The parties can agree that neither party will have to pay child support. However, the court must go along with it. If the judge does not believe that agreement is in the best interest of the child, child support could still be ordered.

Can my ex keep my child from me if I owe child support?
No, your ex cannot keep your child from you if you owe child support. However, if you are behind on your payments, the other parent may take you to court to enforce the order. If you are found to be in contempt of court, the judge could order a number of different penalties, including jail time.

When can I stop paying child support in Texas?
In Texas, you can stop paying child support when the child turns 18 or graduates high school, whichever comes later. Child support obligations also terminate if the child is emancipated or passes away. On the other hand, if the child has a disability, you may be required to pay child support indefinitely.