Q: How do I know if I qualify for child support?

A: If you are the parent and the primary caregiver for a child, you may qualify for child support payments.

In this case, the other parent has a duty to provide for the child. If you are not a parent, but you are the guardian of a child, the child’s parents have a duty to provide support unless that duty has been removed by a court order.

As a general rule, you may qualify for child support if you are taking care of a child. It is important for you to obtain legal advice regarding your specific situation in order to obtain the monetary support you need.

Q: How do I determine the correct amount of child support?

A: The approximate percent of income guidelines supplied by the state of Texas are as follows:

  • 20% for one child
  • 25% for two children
  • 30% for three children
  • 35% for four children
  • 40% for five children
  • Not less than 40% for six or more children.

When determining the amount of child support, however, the primary consideration is the best interest of the child. These percentages can change based on special circumstances and whether the obligor is responsible for paying child support for other children.

The following is a list of factors a court may consider in making its determination:

  • The earning potential of both parents;
  • The needs and the age of the child or children being supported;
  • The financial means of both parents;
  • The ability of both parents to work;
  • The necessity of childcare if both parents have to work outside the home;
  • The educational needs of the child or children being supported;
  • The specific needs of the child/children being supported with regard to special educational, health concerns, and other variables;
  • Travel expenses necessary for exercising visitation; and
  • Other variables and regarding the specific child being supported.

Q: What is child support meant to cover?

A: Child support is meant to cover the expenses and basic needs of children.

The way in which child support is used depends on the particular needs of the children involved, but in general is meant to pay for housing, food, clothing, and the like. As all families and circumstances are different, your individual case is unique. Below is a guide to what is commonly included when considering child support coverage. It is explanation and guideline only and should not be considered legal advice.

The Necessities

Necessities are exactly what they sound like. Child support will be expected to help cover food, clothing, and shelter. This may mean payments will go towards purchasing groceries to keep the child fed and healthy as well as appropriate clothing. Child support payments may be used to pay rent or the mortgage for the home a child lives in, as well as electricity and other bills related to sheltering a child.

Medical Care

Parents are responsible for providing medical care, thus, child support may be used to cover some medical expenses. Usually, insurance coverage for the child is required and then additional medical needs may be on a case-to-case basis. Specialty medical needs like dental and vision care are often covered by support payments or split between the parents.

Education & Childcare

There are various costs associated with a child’s attendance at school. Basics that should be considered in payments are textbooks, school supplies (such as pencils, pens, notebooks, etc.), school clothes and uniforms, lunch money, and tutoring.

Additionally, if a younger child needs to attend daycare or some other form of childcare because both parents are working, child support may be used to pay for it. Funds required for childcare will also consider additional needs in the summer, during school breaks, or during holidays.

Transportation

Child support may be used to towards costs associated with a child’s vehicle (Insurance, gasoline, maintenance work). Child support payments may also need to cover any cost for the child to travel between parents.

Additional Items

Child support may be used to pay for extracurricular activities both inside and outside of school. Common examples include sports, clubs, summer camp, and other programs or classes that are not associated with the child’s regular school programs.

Child support may also be used for entertainment including, but not limited to, going to the movies, amusement parks, camping and other outings.

The above does not provide and exhaustive list of everything child support may be used for, but it does include some of the more common items.

Q: Who pays child support in shared custody?

A: The answer to this depends on the particular facts of the individual case.

The standard applied to child support is based upon whatever is in the best interest of the child. In cases of shared custody, when one parent does not have physical custody of the child substantially more than the other parent, then neither parent may be ordered to pay child support.

However, a parent making substantially more money than the other parent may be ordered to pay child support to the other parent if that is what is deemed to be the best interest of the child. While this is not mandated by statute, it is becoming the common practice across the state in keeping with the best interest of the child standard.

Q: Do fathers have equal right to request child support from mothers?

A: The state of Texas does make a distinction between mother and father when determining child support.

Each case is fact-specific and is based upon the criteria and determinations discussed above. As in each case, the overriding concern is what is in the child’s best interest.

Q: How long does it take to get child support?

A: There is no definite timeline, but the sooner a court order is obtained the sooner payments may be received.

Child support may be obtained through an Income Withholding Order. Payments made through withholding are obtained through the obligor’s employer, and sent automatically each month. If the obligor is paid in cash or tips, payments may be made without garnishment. Payments are often dependent upon the obligor making them according to the terms of the court’s order.

Q: When does child support end in Texas?

A: Parents have a duty to support their children until they reach the age of 18 or graduate from secondary school.

The support payments end with whichever life event above comes second. Or, in cases where the child has his or her disabilities of minority removed, payments end with this emancipation. In order to become emancipated the child would have to be a resident of this state, 17 years of age, or at least 16 years of age and living separate and apart from the legal guardian, and be self-supporting and managing their own affairs. Lastly a child can become emancipated if he or she marries or enters into military service.

Parents may owe a duty of support to their children even after one of the above events has taken place if: (i) the child suffered from a disability that was known before the child turned 18 (in this case child support may or may not be continued for the rest of the child’s life); or (ii) if a child has reached the age of 18 and has not yet graduated from secondary school so long as the child attends school and the graduation occurs before the child turns 21.

Child Support FAQs

Determining Amount of Child Support Owed

What Does Child Support Cover?

Who Pays Child Support?

Support Time: When and How Long?

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