When a divorce involves children, the court may require the noncustodial parent to pay child support. Texas courts enforce child support orders, and, if the noncustodial parent misses his payments, he may suffer legal consequences. The severity of these consequences depends on the number of missed payments and the behavior of the noncustodial parent.
About Child Support
Texas typically requires a noncustodial parent to pay child support payments equal to 20 percent of his gross monthly income for one child, 25 percent for two children, 30 percent for three children, 35 percent for four children and 40 percent for five or more children, as of publication time. These percentages are slightly lower if the noncustodial parent is currently supporting other children. The court also will consider other factors when determining support, such as the age and needs of the children and the ability of both parents to provide support.
In Texas, the custodial parent can bring action against you for missing only one child support payment. Once you have missed a payment, the Texas Child Support Division may enforce regular and missed payments by withholding funds from your paycheck, intercepting tax refunds or lottery winnings, filing liens against your property or assets or filing a lawsuit against you. If you miss three months of payments and don't enter into a voluntary repayment agreement, Texas may suspend your driver's license, hunting license, fishing license or professional license.
If you continue to miss support payments, the custodial parent may ask the Texas Child Support Division to label you as an evader. You can become an evader when you owe more than $5,000 in back child support, your location is unknown and you have made no payments in the last six months. If the custodial parent signs a privacy release, the child support evader program will seek information from the public to locate you and enforce the support order.
In Texas, child support and visitation rights are separate issues. Even if you aren't visiting your child, you must still comply with your child support order. Likewise, if you aren't making your payments, your ex-spouse can't prevent you from visiting your child. If you can't afford your ordered support payments because of a change in employment or other circumstances, you can petition the court to alter your payments.
- Attorney General of Texas: Child Support Evaders
- Attorney General of Texas: Handbook for Noncustodial Parents
- Attorney General of Texas: Frequently Asked Questions
- Travis County: Child Support Payments
- TexasLawHelp.org: Answers to questions about Child Support in Texas
- USDA. "The Cost of Raising a Child." Accessed January 28, 2020.
- Office of Child Support Enforcement. "Who Owes the Child Support Debt?" Accessed January 28, 2020.
Amanda McMullen is a freelancer who has been writing professionally since 2010. She holds a bachelor's degree in mathematics and statistics and a second bachelor's degree in integrated mathematics education.