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Child Support

Child Support & Medical Support

This article explains the basics of child support.

Learn how to calculate child support, where it comes from, how long child support lasts, when and why the Office of the Attorney General may be involved, and more.

Special thanks to Texas RioGrande Legal Aid for its contribution to this article.

What resources are counted for child support?

With a few exceptions, child support is based on net income from all sources. Your employer is required by law to withhold child support from your wages, and any ordered medical and dental support and back child support.  

Read Texas Family Code 154.061 and 154.062 for a full list of net resources.

What income is subject to child support withholding?

Income subject to child support withholding  
Wages, overtime, tips, bonuses, commissions, self-employment income Yes
Social Security Disability (SSDI); VA Disability Yes
Unemployment Yes
Social Security Retirement Yes
Worker's Compensation Benefits Yes
Self-employment from ride sharing or delivery apps (starting September 1, 2021) Yes
Supplemental Security Income (SSI) No
VA Pension No

What can be withheld from a paycheck in addition to current child support?

In addition to current child support, withholding may include: 

  • Medical support (cost of health insurance, CHIP, Medicaid), 

  • Dental support (cost of dental insurance), 

  • Arrearages (past due or “back” child support), and 

  • Retroactive child support (support from parents' separation until orders are made by the court). 

Texas Family Code 154.062.

What is the basic guideline for child support?

Basic Guideline Child Support
Number of Children 1 2 3 4 5+
% Net monthly income 20% 25% 30% 35% 40%
Multiple Family Adjusted Guidelines
% Net monthly
  Number of children before the court
    1 2 3 4 5+
Number of
children for
whom the
obligor has
a duty of
0 20% 25% 30% 35% 40%
1 17.5% 22.5% 27.38% 32.2% 37.33%
2 16% 20.63% 25.20% 30.33% 35.43%
3 14.75% 19% 24% 29% 34%
4 13.6% 18.33% 23.14% 28% 32.89%
5 13.33% 17.86% 22.50% 27.22% 32%
6 13.14% 17.5% 22% 26.6% 31.27%
7 13% 17.22% 21.6% 26.09% 30.67%

Texas Family Code 154.125(b).

How long do I have to pay support?

Usually, child support ends when the last child turns 18 or graduates from high school, whichever is later. If your child has a disability, it might last longer. 

If the Department of Family and Protective Services (DFPS/CPS) has temporary conservatorship of a child or permanent conservatorship of a child but parental rights have not been terminated, the court might order either or both parents to pay child support. 

Even if your parental rights have been terminated, you might be ordered to pay child support until the child is adopted or any of the above-mentioned instances happen. 

Note: If you owe back child support (arrearages), payments will continue even after the child turns 18—until the debt plus interest is paid in full. Terminating parental rights will not erase child support arrearages.  

Read Texas Family Code 154.001 and 154.006 for more information.

How can I change the amount of child support?

To increase or decrease support, you must show a change in circumstances for the child or either party since the entry of the last child support order. Read Changing a Child Support Order for more information.

If you want to modify (change) your child support, use our child support modification guide. You can also ask the Office of Attorney General Child Support Division (OAG) to review the amount of current support if it’s been at least three years since the last child support order and the current amount varies from the child support guidelines by 20% or $100.

Why can’t I send child support directly to the custodial parent?

For court-ordered child support, the law requires all payments to go through the Texas Child Support Disbursement Unit (SDU) so it is recorded before forwarding the payment to the custodial parent.

Payments sent to the custodial parent are not automatically credited against the child support obligation, and might even be considered a "gift." 

Texas Family Code 154.004.

We don’t have a child support order. Why is the Attorney General involved?

If your child receives food stamps, Medicaid, WIC, or other government benefits, the OAG has the right to file for a child support order to offset the cost of those services, even if the parents don’t apply for support.

Do I have to pay support if my child gets dependent benefits based on my disability?

Possibly. Disability payments are subject to child support withholding. The court will use the child support guidelines (above) and subtract (offset) the amount of benefits paid to or for the child as a result of your disability. 

Texas Family Code 154.132.

Can a Texas child support order be enforced in other states?

Yes. Every state is required to uphold the child support orders of another state under the Uniform Interstate Family Support Act (UIFSA). Depending on the country, it can also be enforced internationally. 

If you want to learn more, read Interstate Child Support Issues: Uniform Interstate Family Support Act (UIFSA).

What if we don’t agree on child support?

If you and the other party do not agree on child support your case is contested. It’s a good idea to talk with a lawyer if your case is contested. 

The Office of the Attorney General (OAG) may also be able to help. Although the OAG cannot represent either parent, the OAG can ask a judge to make an order for child support, medical support, custody, and possession. 

Once there is a final court order for custody and support of your children and you need a divorce, you can use the guide I need a divorce. We have minor children. A final custody and support order is already in place. 

For information about opening a case with the OAG, call 800-255-8014 or visit their website.

Related Guides

  • I need a custody order. I am the child's parent (SAPCR).

    Child Custody & Visitation

    This guide tells you how to ask for a custody, visitation, child support, medical support, and dental support order.
  • I need to change a custody, visitation, or support order (Modification).

    Child Custody & Visitation

    This guide tells you how to modify an existing custody, visitation, child support, and medical/dental support order.
  • I need a custody order. I am not the child's parent (SAPCR).

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    How to ask for a custody, visitation, child support, and medical support order. For grandparents and other nonparents.
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