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austin child support lawyerIf you have children, child support becomes a core part of divorce in Texas and the wellbeing of your children is a major priority for the courts. However, child support can become a bit more complex in a high-asset divorce.

Parents going through a divorce in Texas are subject to statutory mathematical formulas to determine their child support obligations. In this blog, we will discuss Texas child support guidelines, some unique challenges, and practical steps that high-income parents can take to ensure a fair and reasonable child support agreement.

Texas Child Support Guidelines

There are specific guidelines for calculating child support payments in Texas. These payments are based on the net monthly income of the non-custodial parent. The non-custodial parent pays a percentage of their net monthly income, based on the number of children they are supporting.


Austin, TX child support attorneyUnder Texas law, every parent has the legal responsibility to provide financial support for their child, even if that child does not live with them. This is why non-custodial parents are ordered to pay child support. And although the majority of parents meet that obligation without any issues, there is no denying that it can feel financially liberating when the day comes that the parent no longer has to send that child support payment to their ex.

Generally, parents are responsible for child support until the child reaches the legal age of adulthood – 18 years – or graduates from high school, whichever comes last. However, some parents wonder if there are situations in which the court will order child support payments to be extended beyond that point. See below for a brief overview of that question.

Disabled Child

Under the Texas Family Code, if a child is disabled, then the law says that the court can order that child support be paid for an indefinite period of time. This is the only exception to extended child support under the law, but there are criteria that are required to be met. These include:


Travis County family law attorneyUnder Texas law, when parents split up, all child support orders are issued in compliance with the state’s child support guidelines. There are situations, however, when the child or the parents may have what is referred to as extraordinary income or expenses. This is often the case in divorces involving a high net worth couple. In these situations, the court may deviate from the traditional guidelines and come up with a different amount.

Texas Child Support Guidelines

Generally, the court will take the parent’s net monthly income (based on the formula put in place by the state) and the parent will pay a percentage of that amount based on how many children the couple has. As of this writing, the current guidelines are:

  • One child – 20 percent


austin child support lawyerChild support payments are intended to be for the direct benefit of the children following a divorce. Within that context, there is a wide range of acceptable uses for child support funds that may not all be strictly related to a child’s basic expenses. Of course, child support can be used for clothing, food, medical costs, or school expenses, but it can also be used for entertainment and vacations. 

There are almost always expenses that benefit the children as well as their custodial parents. Rent, utilities, and household items are necessary to raise a child, and a parent may save child support funds in case of emergencies. However, if a parent is spending child support money in ways that are not associated with the welfare of the children, this can be a problem. Recognizing how child support can be improperly used is important for taking action when necessary. 

How Can I Find Out How My Ex Spends Child Support? 

Parents paying child support cannot get a detailed list of how child support funds are spent. Once child support payments are ordered by a court, the parent who receives the payments has complete discretion when it comes to how they spend the payments as long as they serve the children’s best interests. Parents paying child support who are concerned about how funds are spent will need to raise the issue in court or with the Texas Child Support Division. 


TX child support lawyerProviding financially for a child’s basic needs is not only an important responsibility for parents, it is a legal obligation. When parents are divorced or unmarried, this obligation must be formalized in a child support order that typically requires one parent to make regular payments to the other. When the paying parent fails to fulfill their obligation, they may face a variety of serious consequences.

Penalties for Late Child Support Payments

In Texas, when a parent fails or refuses to make a scheduled child support payment, an enforcement action may be initiated by the receiving parent or the Texas Office of the Attorney General. Depending on the circumstances, the paying parent could face one or more of the following consequences:

  • An order to pay arrearages and interest - A parent who is delinquent on child support payments remains responsible for the full amount of past-due payments. Child support arrearages also accrue interest until they are repaid.
  • An order to pay the other parent’s attorney fees - When the receiving parent brings a child support enforcement action before the court, the delinquent parent can be ordered to pay the petitioning parent’s attorney fees and court costs.
  • Property liens - A lien may be placed on a delinquent parent’s real estate property, bank or retirement account, or other assets in order to enforce payment.
  • Credit consequences - Delinquent child support payments are reported to credit agencies, which may affect the parent’s ability to qualify for loans or credit cards. Unlike many other types of debt, child support arrearages cannot be discharged in bankruptcy.
  • License suspension - A delinquent parent may have their driver’s license suspended while child support is in arrears. Professional and recreational licenses may also be suspended.
  • Denied passport and/or vehicle registration - In some cases, child support delinquency can prevent a parent from applying for a new or renewed passport, or a renewed vehicle registration.
  • Contempt of court charges - A delinquent parent can be charged with civil or criminal contempt of court, depending on the circumstances, which may result in fines and even jail time.

Understanding Your Legal Options

If you are the receiving parent, an attorney can help you understand your options for recovering late child support payments, including by petitioning the court for enforcement if necessary. If you are the paying parent and you are concerned about your ability to fulfill your obligations, you may be able to work with an attorney to petition for a modification of the child support order to preemptively avoid an enforcement action. If you are subject to enforcement, an attorney may be able to help you resolve the situation before costly penalties are assessed.

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