In Texas, child support ends when a child turns 18 or becomes emancipated through other means. However, a child support order does not automatically end, and the obligated parent cannot simply stop paying child support if these conditions are met.
Instead, you will need to file a Motion to Terminate Withholding For Child Support for it to be terminated. Termination of a child support order may be granted if:
- The child has turned 18 or graduated high school, whichever comes later
- The child has become emancipated, meaning they are self-supporting
- The child has joined the U.S. military
A Judge will review your petition, and if it is in line with Texas family law, then it should be granted. However, if you owe child support, then it is likely that the Judge will order you to pay the arrears before the order can be terminated. In the meantime, the obligated parent will need to continue to pay child support.
There are also situations where child support payments may need to be paid indefinitely, such as if your child requires substantial care and supervision due to a physical or mental disability.
The Love DuCote Law Firm LLC
At The Love DuCote Law Firm LLC, we are committed to helping family law clients in Sugar Land, Houston, Katy, Fort Bend County, and surrounding areas. We understand how challenging family law matters can be and will help you secure an arrangement that meets everyone’s needs as much as possible.
Our family law lawyers place top priority on the best interests of children with all child support cases. However, we also understand how much of a financial strain divorce and separation can place on the parties involved. When it comes to child support cases, we want to help ensure that your children get what they need to support their needs while ensuring that the support order does not leave parents in financial distress.
Going through a child support case can be complex and difficult. It is important to have strong legal representation by your side at all stages of the case. Skillern Firm has the skills, experience, and resources necessary to help you with your case. Our firm takes a highly individualized approach to family law, and we give personal attention to each child support case that comes through our doors.
How Is The Child Support Amount Calculated?
Texas family law sets out child support guidelines that outline how the courts calculate support payments. These guidelines set a minimum amount of child support that is needed to support the child’s best interests. The court can deviate from the guidelines if it is in the best interests of the child, for example, if the needs of the child are proven to be more than the minimum amount.
If the parent that is paying child support has a monthly net income of less than $7,500, then the following guidelines are applied when calculating child support payments:
- If the couple has one child = 20% of the Net Monthly Income
- Two children = 25% of Net Monthly Income
- Three children = 30% of Net Monthly Income
- Four children = 35% of Net Monthly Income
- Five children = 40% of Net Monthly Income
- Six children = no less than 40% of Net Monthly Income
If the paying parent’s net monthly income is above $7,500, the court will apply the above calculations to the first $7,500. If the claiming parent can prove that the child has additional needs that warrant further support, such as tuition and extra medical costs, the court can order larger payments.
If the paying parent is intentionally unemployed or underemployed, the court can impute an income on them based on what is reasonable to assume their income should be.
What Other Factors Are Considered?
The caps listed are not absolute, and it is possible to fight for more. Especially if the obligated parent is a high-earner and a child has additional needs.
Factors that may be taken into consideration when determining child support payments include:
- The number of children and their needs
- Each parent’s income and overall financial circumstances
- Whether the custodial parent receives spousal support
- Child custody arrangements
- Travel costs for visitation
Parents must also ensure that their child has access to medical care. The court will consider the ability of each parent to provide health insurance at a reasonable cost, which may also be included in a child support order.
Can I Modify Child Support in Texas?
A court-ordered child support agreement is legally binding, and the obligated parent needs to pay support in line with your order. However, family law also recognizes that sometimes life progresses and needs change, which can make the current order unmanageable or insufficient.
In order to successfully change an existing child support order, one of two factors must apply:
- Payments that would be ordered under current child support guidelines differ by 20% or $100 from what is outlined in the current order, and three years or more have passed
- There has been a material and substantial change in circumstances
Justifications for a Material and Substantial Change in Circumstances
Modifying a child support order can be difficult, as it requires you to provide evidence that proves that there has been a material and substantial change in circumstances. A child support attorney can help you determine whether a modification is attainable and will show how to evidence your claims.
Some examples of justifications for a child support modification include:
- The obligor has lost their job or is no longer earning the same amount as before and can’t afford current child support payments
- One parent secures a new job with better health insurance benefits
- The obligor gains new employment, or their wage is increased, which means that they can afford to pay more in child support
- Changes to the custody arrangement
- The child has developed a mental or physical disability and requires extra support
- The child gains a new talent or interest and requires additional financial support
How is Child Support Enforced in Texas?
If you are the obligor and you cannot afford child support payments, then it is essential you seek a modification. Child support payments never disappear, and you will be in arrears if you do not pay them. Even if you do secure a modification, it will not apply to previous payments. Therefore, you should act quickly to avoid ramifications.
If you do miss child support payments, a Judge could:
- Garnish your wages
- Seize your property
- Suspend a professional license such as a driver’s license
- Deny your passport
- Issue a fine of up to $500 for each non-payment
- Issue a jail sentence of up to six months
Being the subject of a child support enforcement order could result in serious ramifications. Therefore if you are unable to make payments, you should contact a family law attorney as soon as possible. They can help you file for a modification so that the child support order reflects your current financial situation.
Complications With Child Support Enforcement
Complications can arise with enforcing child support if the paying parent has relocated out of state or if there are issues locating the parent. In Texas, laws are in place, such as the Uniform Interstate Family Support Act, to help child support enforcement across states.
If you are looking to enforce child support payments across states, seek legal counsel from a family law attorney. An experienced child support lawyer will be well-versed in navigating these complexities and can work with you to find a successful course of action for you.
At The Love DuCote Law Firm LLC, our first step will be to help you and your ex-spouse mediate an agreement. We believe that it is important to protect your relationship where possible. It is also important to consider why they have missed payments and give them the opportunity to make an arrangement to pay you back. However, If the parent obligated to pay child support refuses to cooperate or continues to miss payments, then we will help you bring your case to a Judge.
Never Withhold Visitation Because of Missed Child Support Payment
If your ex-spouse fails to meet their child support obligation, then it can be incredibly frustrating. However, you cannot take matters into your own hands by refusing visitation. Child custody and child support are separate issues, and if you do this, you could be found guilty of contempt. Instead, you should contact an attorney who can help you follow the proper legal protocol.
Fortunately, the obligated parent cannot avoid paying child support. Payments never disappear, and eventually, they will need to pay what they owe you.
Will I Have To Go To Court?
If both parents agree to a custody arrangement, they will not need to go to court for a trial. Instead, the agreed child support order will be sent to the judge to sign and finalize. Paying child support can be a sensitive topic between parents, and disagreements often arise during modification.
If parents can’t reach an agreement through negotiation, a court date is scheduled for a judge to decide on child support.
Other reasons a case may need to go to court include situations with concerns of family violence or a history of missing negotiation appointments.
How Long Does a Non-Custodial Parent Pay Child Support in Texas?
If you are asking – ‘when does child support end’? Then the best thing you can do is reach out to a lawyer who can advise you based on your specific circumstances.
At The Love DuCote Law Firm LLC, our team of family law attorneys are highly experienced in child support matters in Texas. We understand how challenging these cases can be and are committed to supporting our clients with any family law issue that they may face.
Our child support lawyers have the skills, experience, and resources required to provide the highest standards of legal care. Schedule a consultation with a Texas child support lawyer today at 832-843-1691.