Courts can order parents to pay child support, regardless of whether they are working. The Texas Attorney General has the power to open a child support case even when neither parent applied for services, such as when a custodial parent applies for a public benefit, such as Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) or Medicaid.
When a noncustodial parent loses his or her job or experiences some other kind of major life event that impacts his or her ability to pay child support, he or she must quickly notify the court and the child support office. Similarly, custodial parents can also file motions to have child support orders modified when a noncustodial parent receives a raise and has greater net resources.
Do you need assistance modifying a child support order or obtaining child support in Harris County? Contact The Gonzalez Law Group today. Call (832) 530-4070 to have our lawyers provide an honest and thorough evaluation of your case during a free, confidential consultation.
Texas Child Support Information Center
Child Support Laws in Texas
In custody cases, the court can make the determination of parental responsibilities. Under Texas Family Code a court can order either the custodial parent or noncustodial parent or both parents to support a child:
- until the child is 18 years of age or until graduation from high school, whichever occurs later;
- until the child is emancipated through marriage, through the removal of the disabilities of minority by court order, or by other operation of law;
- until the death of the child; or
- if the child is disabled as defined in this chapter, for an indefinite period.
Child support can 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 of the above. Unless otherwise agreed in writing or expressly provided in the order, a child support order terminates on:
- the marriage of the child;
- the removal of the child’s disabilities for general purposes;
- the death of the child;
- a finding by a court that the child is 18 years of age or older and has failed to comply with the enrollment or attendance requirements described by Texas Family Code § 154.002(a);
- the issuance of an order terminating the parent-child relationship between the obligor and the child based on the results of genetic testing that exclude the obligor as the child’s genetic father; or
- if the child enlists in the armed forces of the United States, the date on which the child begins active service.
Child support obligations are based on a parent’s net resources, which includes:
- 100 percent of all wage and salary income and other compensation for personal services (including commissions, overtime pay, tips, and bonuses);
- Interest, dividends, and royalty income;
- Self-employment income;
- Net rental income (rent after deducting operating expenses and mortgage payments, but not including noncash items such as depreciation); and
- All other income actually being received, including severance pay, retirement benefits, pensions, trust income, annuities, capital gains, social security benefits other than supplemental security income, United States Department of Veterans Affairs disability benefits other than non-service-connected disability pension benefits, as defined by 38 U.S.C. § 101(17), unemployment benefits, disability and workers’ compensation benefits, interest income from notes regardless of the source, gifts and prizes, spousal maintenance, and alimony.
Net resources do not include a return of principal or capital, accounts receivable, benefits paid in accordance with the TANF program or another federal public assistance program, or payments for foster care of a child.
Texas Child Support Guidelines
Under Texas Family Code § 154.125(b), a court presumptively applies the following schedule in rendering the child support order when the obligor’s (paying parent’s) monthly net resources are not greater than $7,500:
- 1 child — 20 percent of net resources
- 2 children — 25 percent of net resources
- 3 children — 30 percent of net resources
- 4 children — 35 percent of net resources
- 5 children — 40 percent of net resources
- 6+ children — Not less than the amount for five children
In some case, a noncustodial parent may have support obligations to children in more than one household. In such cases, Texas Family Code § 154.129 establishes the following multiple family adjusted guidelines with respective percentages of net resources an obligor must dedicate to his or her children:
|Number of children before the court|
|Number of other children the obligor has a duty to support||1||2||3||4||5||6||7|
Child Support Resources in Harris County
Office of Harris County District Clerk | Child Support — Because of discontinued contracts by the Office of the Attorney General with the Harris County District Clerk’s Office, the District Clerk’s Child Support Office now directs inquiries regarding child support information such as payments, address changes, account set up, and other related concerns to the Office of the Attorney General’s State Disbursement Unit or the Harris County Domestic Relations Office. The Harris County District Clerk’s Child Support department does continue to make available past payment history records and provide service for Notice to Employer of Income Withholding requests. Use this website to access a payment history request form and learn more about the Focus on Collections and Services (FOCAS) program.
Harris County District Clerk’s Child Support Office
201 Caroline St., Room 110
Houston, TX 77002
Child Support | Parents and Guardians | Texas Attorney General — Visit this section of the Attorney General’s website to access the Child Support Interactive website that allows you to apply for services, check case status, check payment status, or change your address. You can also find a variety of other forms and helpful links. The Attorney General’s website also has a child support handbook for noncustodial parents.
Child Support Attorneys in Houston, TX
If you need help modifying or enforcing a child support order in Southeast Texas, it is in your best interest to make sure that you have legal representation. The Gonzalez Law Group assists individuals with child support issues in the greater Harris County area including Pearland, Baytown, Seabrook, La Porte, Pasadena, Galena Park, Friendswood, and many others.
Our experienced divorce lawyers in Houston can work to achieve the most favorable possible resolution to your particular situation. You can have our attorneys review your case and discuss all of your legal options when you call (832) 530-4070 or complete an online contact form to receive a free, confidential consultation.