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Child Support

Family, Divorce & Children

This article about child support was written by Texas RioGrande Legal Aid.


What resources are counted for child support?

With 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, if ordered, medical support and back child support.

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

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. 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 won’t erase child support arrearages. 

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. For self-help modification forms, click here. 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 3 years since the last child support order AND the current amount varies from the 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 payments to pass through the Texas Child Support Disbursement Unit (SDU) to be 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." 

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

If your child receives food stamps, Medicaid, WIC or other benefits, the OAG has the right file for 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 (off-set) the amount of benefits paid to or for the child as a result of your disability. 

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. Depending on the country, it can also be enforced internationally. 

Income Subject to Child Support Withholding

Basic Guideline Child Support

What if we don’t agree on child support?

If you and your spouse 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, you can use this toolkit to get a divorce: 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 go to their website at

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