How does child support work in Texas?

By: Leslie Barrows April 20, 2017 no comments

How does child support work in Texas?

How does child support work in Texas?

When parents in Texas file for divorce, the court will order one of the parties to pay child support until the child turns 18, graduates from high school, marries, dies or is emancipated by court order. The same child support order also applies when a man and woman have a child and are not married. When determining if a man is the father of a child Texas courts consider the presumption that the man is the father if he is married to the mother, or whether the man signed an acknowledgement of paternity when the child was born or was legally determined to be the parent with paternity testing.

Child Support Calculations

The first step in determining child support is identifying the obligor (who pays) and the obligee (who receives payments). In most cases the parent who the child lives with primarily is the one receiving child support payments. The obligor shall make child support payments in an amount ordered by the court. In Texas, the courts determine the amount of child support by calculating a percentage of the obligor’s annual gross income and monthly net resources, divided into monthly payments. The standard child support guidelines are as follows:


1 child                  20% of Obligor’s Net Resources

2 children           25% of Obligor’s Net Resources

3 children            30% of Obligor’s Net Resources

4 children            35% of Obligor’s Net Resources

5 children            40% of Obligor’s Net Resources

6+ children         Not less than the amount for 5 children

Withholding and Disbursement

When the court has determined the proper child support amount, a withholding order is entered called an Income Withholding for Support Order (IWO). The IWO orders the employer of the obligor to withhold the amount of child support from the obligor’s paycheck. Generally, the IWO directs the employer to direct the withheld income to the Texas Attorney General Child Support division who processes payments and disbursements to the obligee parent who usually receives the payments on a Texas Payment Card which works like a debit or credit card.


When there are substantial changes in circumstances such as the obligor’s income either parent may petition the court to modify the child support obligation and prepare a new IWO. In some cases, there may be adjustments to make for overpayments or for past due payments. When child custody, known as conservatorship, changes substantially or between parents, the child support may be modified.


When the child support payments are not being paid, there are several methods of enforcement. The Attorney General’s office may enforce the courts orders and as well the child support obligee can ask the court to enforce a child support order on their own or through their attorney. Ultimately the court can sentence a non-paying child support obligor to jail and enter a judgment against them for all the past due child support. Failure to pay child support may also cause suspension of the obligor’s vehicle registration. There may also be liens against assets, property and even tax refunds and lottery winnings.


In most Texas child support cases the obligor parent’s responsibility to pay support may be terminated when the child turns 18 or later when they graduate from high school if they are still enrolled as of their 18th birthday. The parent must file a request to terminate child support with the Texas Child Support Division to terminate the payments. In certain cases, the child support obligation will automatically terminate.

For more information about child support in Texas, please do not hesitate to contact The Barrows Firm in Southlake at (817) 481-1583.

If you would like more information about The Barrows Firm, P.C., please contact the firm by calling (817) 481-1583. The Barrows Firm is located at 700 East Southlake Boulevard in Southlake near the Town Square.

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