Texas child support laws require that a parent with whom the child does not primarily reside pay child support to the other parent (primary managing conservator, though commonly referred to as the custodial parent).

The other parent, typically a non-primary managing conservator (commonly referred to as the non-custodial parent), will make these payments on a set schedule to provide for the child’s basic needs, like food, shelter, clothing, education, and more.

How to Calculate Child-Support Payments

Simply put, child support payments constitute a percentage of the noncustodial parent’s net income.

Your net income includes the following. 

  • Your wages or salary
  • Overtime
  • Tips
  • Interest
  • Bonuses
  • Dividends
  • Income from royalties
  • Self- employment income
  • Rental income
  • Retirement benefits
  • Pensions
  • Income from a trust
  • Unemployment benefits
  • Disability benefits
  • Workers’ compensation benefits
  • Alimony payments
  • Gifts


The payments can depend on the number of children covered under the payment plan, the number of children the parent is already supporting, and other factors.

For example, under the new Texas child support cap, if you earn $8,550 or less a month and are supporting one child, you would pay 20 percent of your net monthly income. For two children, you would pay 25 percent. Add five percentage points for every child included in the child support order.

If you earn more than $8,550 a month, then this formula applies to the first $8,550 and the court may add additional support if it deems necessary.

How does the paying parent make child support payments?

Under child support laws in Texas, a court-issued child support order will contain an income withholding order, which the noncustodial parent’s employer will use to withhold the payment from his paycheck. That amount goes to a child support enforcement agency, which will send the payment to the primary managing conservator (custodial parent).

However, if you are a self-employed parent or if you aren’t otherwise subject to income withholding orders, then you can pay the child support directly to the other parent.

How long must child support payments continue?

A noncustodial parent must pay child support until the child reaches the age of 18 or graduates from high school, whichever occurs later. If the child is emancipated by marriage, or via a court order, the noncustodial parent’s child support obligations will end.

However, in certain cases, the child support obligations may continue indefinitely. For instance, if the child is disabled, the noncustodial parent may have to continue payments for an indefinite period of time. A court may determine that a disabled child should continue to receive child support if the child is in need of care for a physical or mental disability, is not capable of looking after himself or herself, and if the disability existed before the child turned 18 years old.

Does Texas allow parents to modify a child support order?

It is not easy to change a child support order, which is enforceable by court order. However, exceptions exist in those situations in which a person is no longer able to make the child support payments ordered earlier.

That could happen because of loss of income, loss of a job, or any other change in financial circumstances that render the person incapable of continuing payments.

The custodial parent can also seek a modification to the child support order because of change in financial circumstances.

The parent requesting the change must prove that a significant or material change affecting the financial circumstances of the child or the custodial/noncustodial parent occurred, or that more than three years passed since creating the order. In the latter case, the person requesting the modification must prove that the new amount under Texas child support laws would differ from the current amount by at least 20 percent or $100.

Attorney Julie Johnson Helps with Matters Related to Child Support

Texas laws can be confusing for some parents with child support and other family law issues. If you’re in the Dallas area, call 214-265-7630 to set up a consultation with family lawyer Julie Johnson. You may also elect to fill out our contact form to set up a consultation.