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Understanding child support determinations in Texas

Jun 11, 2021 | Child Support

If you are a divorced or unmarried parent, you will likely have a child support order in place.

This order ensures a child receives support from both parents, so parents should understand what they must do to comply with these court orders and how the program works in Texas.

Who pays?

In general, the parent with whom a child spends less time will be the one to pay child support.

Even if parents share custody (called conservatorship in Texas), one parent will be the primary conservator. The other parent has visitation and will be the one to pay child support.

It is also critical to note that parentage must be confirmed before a parent can be subject to an order for support.

How much will it be?

Child support calculations use factors to determine a fair amount. These factors include:

  • The number of children receiving support
  • The paying parent’s net income, including deductions

However, there are situations in which a parent may pay more or less than what the guidelines recommend. For instance, if a child has extraordinary medical or academic expenses, a parent might pay more. If the receiving parent has significant financial resources, the paying parent may request to pay less. 

Whatever the reasons may be for paying more or less than the recommended amount, parents must agree to it, or a court must approve the request. 

What happens if disputes arise?

If a parent feels a child support order is unfair or has concerns about enforcing an order, parties can negotiate a resolution together or request a court hearing. 

One thing that parents should not do in the event of a dispute is to deviate from the court order. Informally modifying an order, refusing to pay support, or withholding parenting time to get a parent to pay support can result in costly legal, financial and parental penalties. To ensure the order continues to be fair and enforceable, parents should work through the proper channels to secure, change or challenge child support.