An action for child support may be initiated in numerous ways. For unmarried parents, a party may seek assistance from the Texas Attorney General’s Office when state benefits are being provided to the child. An action for child support may also be a part of an action for paternity or a dissolution of marriage.
In Texas, the Court routinely calculates child support using a formula located in the Texas Family Code and commonly referred to as “Standardized Child Support.” Generally, child support will continue until the child reaches the age of majority, becomes emancipated, or dies. A child reaches the age of majority when they graduate from high school or turn 18, whichever is later, unless the child is physically or mentally incapacitated.
A child becomes emancipated when they marry, enter military service, becomes emancipated by court order, or by parental consent followed by a court order.
Child support payments will be made directly from the non-custodial parent to the child disbursement unit in San Antonio, Texas and sent from there to the custodial parent. The Court also has discretion to order the payments withheld from the obligor’s paycheck.
Child support is usually a monthly or bi-monthly payment from the non-custodial parent to the custodial parent for the benefit of the child. The amount of support is calculated pursuant to the Texas Family Code, which is basically a formula that figures child support based on the income of the non-custodial parent and other factors. The Code’s calculation includes, but is not limited to, the following:
- Number of children before the Court
- Number of children for which the non-custodial parent is legally obligated to support
- Gross income of the non-custodial parent
- Health insurance costs paid by the non-custodial parent
- Special needs of the child (medical)
Most of the time, the Court will order the amount of child support calculated by the Code (the presumed amount), but the parties can change the presumed amount by agreement, or the Court may find that the presumed amount is unjust or inappropriate and order a different amount. In order for the Court to change the child support amount from the presumed amount, the court must consider all relevant factors, including statutory and other factors.
Child support terminates, generally, when the child dies, marries, enters active military duty, reaches the age of 18 or is enrolled in and attending high school whichever comes later, the parents remarry, or the child is otherwise emancipated. Termination of future child support does not terminate any liability for past due child support.
This information is intended to be an overview of child support and not a comprehensive guide. For more information please contact our office.
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