Houston Child Support Lawyer

How Does Child Support Work in Texas 

In a child support case, the court can award retroactive child support which is repayment of monies spent for the care of the supported children.  It represents income owed to the supporting parent in the past.  However, it is extremely important that a child support order be put in place before a child turns 18 years of age. Not doing so may completely eliminate a parent's ability to collect any retroactive child support. To better protect you and your childs rights, contact a child support attorney in Houston at The Tholstrup Law Firm, L.P..

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How to Enforce Child Support in Texas?

Child support in Texas is enforced either by the initiation of a private entity/attorney, Friend of the Court, Domestic Relations Office or the Attorney General’s Office. Additionally, a Texas court may enforce a child support order by contempt, money judgment, imposing a lien on the personal or real property of a person owing support, or by an order that income be withheld from the disposable earning of the person owing support.

Do You Need a Lawyer to File for Child Support in Texas?

It is your constitutional right to represent yourself but do you know enough about the child support laws governing to protect your best interests?  Without proper legal representation and a sound knowledge of the law, you could end up paying too much, or worse, going to jail. It's best to consult with a qualified child support lawyer in Houston, TX.

Read Our Child Support FAQs to Learn More About


If you have further questions or need legal advice, contact our law firm online or phone (713) 533-8457 to speak with one of our Houston child support attorneys.

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FAQs About Child Support in Texas

If Parental Rights Are Terminated Do They Still Owe Child Support?

Yes, termination of parental rights terminates only future payment of child support but does not eliminate any arrearage that accrued prior to the time of termination. Only the supporting parent (usually the mother) can modify/ reduce the amount of the child support arrearage owed. 

Is There a Statute of Limitations on a Child Support Collection Case?

Not on a collection suit based on an existing or prior court order. If no court order exists, the case must be filed before the child(ren) reaches the age of 18 or the collection may be barred.  

If a father is not aware of the child’s existence prior to a paternity action, the retroactive child support may be limited to the four years prior to the filing of the suit.  If a father does know about a child that he has fathered, retroactive child support may be ordered to the time of the birth of the child.

What Are the Defenses of Failure to Pay Support as Ordered by the Court?

  • The person with possession of the child voluntarily relinquished actual possession and control of the children to the person owing child support
  • The person owing support lacked the ability to provide support in the amount ordered
  • The person owing support lacked property that could be sold, mortgaged, or otherwise pledged to raise the funds needed
  • The person owing support attempted unsuccessfully to borrow the funds needed and knew of no source from which the money could have been borrowed or legally obtained

What If a Parent Ordered to Pay Support Refuses to Do So?

  • The parent owing child support may be held in contempt and sent to jail until the support is paid.
  • A money judgment may be entered against the person owing child support.
  • A child support lien may be filed against real or personal property of the parent  owing child support.
  • Personal or professional licenses of the person owing child support may be suspended.

What Is the Standard of Proof in a Contempt Proceeding?

The standard of proof in a contempt proceeding is “beyond a reasonable doubt” since the person owing the child support faces jail time. The standard of proof in a compliance hearing or other matter ancillary to the contempt hearing is “preponderance of the evidence.” That is evidence which as a whole shows that the fact sought to be proved is more probable than not.  More simply put, it is evidence which is more credible and convincing to the mind or that degree of proof that is more probable than not and as a whole carries a greater weight.

How Much Child Support Can I Receive/Will I Pay?

The amount of child support a person (“obligee”) will receive depends upon the “net resources” from all sources of income the person paying (“obligor”) child support. The maximum child support from one or more child support orders an obligor can be made to pay is 50% of his/her net resources.

What Is Included in Net Resources?


  • 100 percent of all wage and salary income and other compensation for personal services;
  • Interest, dividends, and royalty income;
  • Self employment income;
  • Net rental income
  • All other income actually being received, including severance pay, retirement benefits, pensions, trust income, annuities, capital gains, social security benefits, unemployment benefits, disability and workers’ compensation benefits, interest income from notes regardless of the source, gifts and prizes, spousal maintenance, and alimony.

There is a statutory presumption of a cap on net resources of $6,000 per month, which will normally cap the amount of child support paid. This statutory presumption can be overcome with evidence that the child’s lifestyle or proven needs support an amount above the Texas Family Code guidelines.

How Do You Calculate Child Support?

Only the net resources of the person paying child support (“obligor”) are considered unless the obligor is intentionally under or unemployed. Monthly net resources are multiplied by a fraction to arrive at the guideline child support. The fraction for 1 child is 20%, for 2 children 25%, for 3 children 30%, for 4 children 35%, etc.

The foregoing percentages are reduced by formula when the obligor has one or more other children for which the obligor has a legal obligation of support (only biological or adopted children, not step children).

Can a Person Ever Get More than the Maximum Amount for Support?

Yes, but rarely. The guidelines set forth above are presumed to be reasonable, but a court may determine that the application of the guidelines would be unjust or inappropriate under the circumstance. The factors that the court will consider relevant when determining whether the guidelines are unjust or inappropriate are as follows

Factors That the Court Will Consider:


  • The age and needs of the child
  • The ability of the parents to contribute to the support of the child
  • Any financial resources available for the support of the child
  • The amount of time of possession of and access to a child
  • The amount of the person receiving child support’s net resources
  • Child care expenses incurred by either party in order to maintain gainful employment
  • Whether either party has the managing conservatorship or actual physical custody of another child

This list is not exhaustive.

Is Failure to Pay Child Support a Criminal Offense?

Yes, it can be prosecuted as a Class B misdemeanor with a fine of up to $500 and jail time no longer than six months.

Who Pays the Attorney’s Fees in a Child Support Collection Case?

If the court finds that a person has failed to make child support payments (Obligor), the court shall order that person (Obligor) to pay the other’s (Obligee) reasonable attorney’s fees and all court costs. The judge shall determine as to how much these attorney fees shall be. 

What Is UIFSA?

UIFSA stands for the Uniform Interstate Family Support Act. The definition of UIFSA can be found in Section 159 of the Texas Family Code. The UIFSA is the standard by which suits for child support and or modification are governed interstate.

Does Interest Accrue on Unpaid Child Support?

Yes, interest accrues on the portion of delinquent child support that is greater than the amount of the monthly periodic support obligation at the rate of six percent simple interest per year.  It is accrued from the date the support is delinquent until the date the support is paid or the arrearages are confirmed and reduced to a money judgment.

Which Parent Has to Pay For the Child’s Medical Support and Health Care Costs?

There is a statutory presumption that the person paying support will also have to pay for the child’s medical insurance support, and 50% of the unreimbursed medical expenses.

Do I Need an Attorney If Served by the Office of the Attorney General Involvement (OAG)?

The Office of the Attorney General will initiate a suit to collect court ordered past due or unpaid child support. The Attorney General does NOT represent you (Obligee) or the children. The Attorney General represents the best interests of the State of Texas. The Attorney General is obligated to enforce court ordered child support to ensure that children are not placed on welfare WHEN there are other means of assistance, such as court ordered child support, available.

If you have been served by the Attorney General for collection of unpaid or past due child support, you may want to employ a family attorney in Houston, TX. It’s true the Attorney General will work directly with you to resolve the matter and make payment arrangements for the amount due.  However, if you feel you do not owe the amount due or any amount of child support, you should employ a lawyer to protect your best interests.

Will the OAG Assist Me in Enforcing My Rights as a Non-custodial Parent?

No, the Office of the Attorney General (OAG) works for the State of Texas to enforce child support ordered by the Court. Even if you pay child support through the office of the attorney general, the OAG does not work for either the custodial or non-custodial parent. Enforcement of access and possession would be up to a) the Friend of the Court or b) hiring a private attorney.

If a Child Support Order Is Made by an Out of State Court, Does That Have Any Effect on a Support Collection Case in a Texas Court?

Yes.

Contact our child support attorney in Houston at (713) 533-8457 for a free consultation today.

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