On September 1, 2013 Texas law changed in respect to child support guidelines. In Texas, the legislature promulgates a series of guidelines to help determine the appropriate amount of child support that should be paid by the child support obligor. While the guidelines are not absolute and it is possible to receive above guideline child support, the guidelines do form the basis of most child support determinations in Texas.

Texas has specific guidelines related to the amount of child support that should be paid each month. The guidelines consider the income of the obligor, or the person paying child support, and the amount of children to be supported. While the amount child support is ordered is based off of these guidelines in most cases, child support can be increased or decreased from the guideline amount depending on a series of factors listed in Texas Family Code §154.123. The Court must consider all relevant factors when deviating from child support. These factors include:

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Texas Courts may order what is known as ‘retroactive child support.’ This means that in addition to requiring a parent to pay child support going forward, a parent may be ordered to pay back child support for previous times when that parent was not helping to support the child. In order for a court to order retroactive child support, the court must first find that no previous order regarding child support was in place, or that the previous order in place was terminated prior to the time frame for which back child support is requested. If someone is ordered to pay child support and fails to do so, those missed payments are known as arrears, not retroactive child support, and a different process is in place for collecting back payments.

Texas child support obligations are calculated using a percentage of your net resources, that percentage being based on how many children one has an obligation to support. Unless there are additional circumstances, as outlined below, a court cannot order a party to pay above Texas Guideline child support amounts as dictated by the Texas Family Code.

There are special circumstances where a court will order a party to pay child support obligations above the guideline amount. Texas Family Code §154.123 states the court shall consider the following factors when deciding if guideline child support is applicable:

This is NOT advisable for several reasons.

First, the ordering containing a child support obligation could ostensibly be in effect for many years, depending on the age of the child when it is first submitted to the court. Second, costs of living increase, people have more children, jobs are lost, two incomes become one; there are a variety of events that could cause a party to regret agreeing to pay a higher amount of child support than guideline amount. Third, there are penalties associated with failure to pay child support obligations; a person does not want to set themselves up for criminal or punitive sanctions for failure to pay if they could have avoided it by paying the guideline amount.

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The State of Texas takes failing to pay child support very seriously; you can face several different types of penalties. These penalties include contempt, liens/foreclosures, suspension of licenses and child support liens.

Failure to pay child support obligations is punishable by coercive and punitive contempt. A motion for enforcement by contempt can be filed with the court.

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