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  The legal information provided on this website is the product of Legal Aid NorthWest Texas (LANWT). None of the legal information on this website is associated with or the product of the Office of the Attorney General of Texas or any of its employees. 


Q. If I die before my child support obligation ends, is my estate responsible for continuing to pay child support?

A. Generally speaking, your estate will be responsible for paying the child support payments you would have otherwise paid yourself. Life insurance enables you to provide for your children. You may designate a conservator to ensure the money goes to the children’s food and shelter needs.

Q. Will the custodial parent have control over the money that my estate would pay to my children?

A. Unless you have a will or a trust established, the answer is usually yes. If you do not wish for the custodial parent to control the money you leave for you children, you should consult an attorney to see if a will or a trust for your child is a good option. If you leave the children substantial money or property, it may be necessary for a probate court to appoint a guardian for the children under 18 years of age. A biological parent will almost always be appointed guardian of the child. However, your Last Will can nominate a different person to be appointed guardian of the child’s estate (property).

Q. Can I pay my child support payments directly to the other parent?

A. Usually the answer is no. In virtually all cases, child support is required to be paid through the registry of the court or the Texas Child Support Disbursement Unit.

Follow the directions in the child support order when paying the support. This will ensure that you will be credited with each payment. As a general rule, providing money, clothes, toys and such is considered a gift outside of your child support obligation.

Q. Is child support required to taken from my paycheck?

A. It is not required in all cases, but normally the court will order child support to be taken directly from your paycheck. Wage withholding is required by law in cases receiving full services from the Office of the Attorney General. This is good for both parents. It is more reliable for the custodial parent, and it creates a record of payments for the non-custodial parent.

Q. We just decided to split up and the children will live with the other parent. Am I required to start paying child support?

A. No. There is no legal requirement to pay child support until there is a court order. Unless you are voluntarily paying and keeping a written record of child support payments, you could be ordered to pay retroactive child support. Voluntary payments can demonstrate to the court and your child that you want to do what is in the best interest of your child. The court will be reviewing each parent’s expenditures between the date of separation and the first court hearing.

Q. How much child support should I expect to pay?

A. State law provides guidelines to determine how much child support should be paid. It is basically a percentage of your income after allowing for taxes, union dues, the cost of health insurance (for the children only) and some other mandatory deductions. You should expect to pay 20% of your income for one child, 25% for 2 children, and 30% for 3 children. The maximum amount you will normally pay is 40% of your net income. You may be entitled to pay a reduced amount if you have other children you are ordered to pay child support for or have other children residing with you. Keep in mind that the law provides guidelines only, not absolute requirements. Either parent can seek to have child support set at an amount that is higher or lower than the guidelines suggest. The courts typically follow the guidelines pretty closely.

Q. I lost my job. Can I stop paying my child support until I find another job?

A. No. You must continue to pay child support ordered to pay or risk being held in contempt of court. If this is not possible, make every effort to pay as much as you can. You can go to court and ask that your payments be lowered if your income has dropped substantially.

Q. How can child support be modified or changed?

A. Only the court can modify or change the child support order. It cannot be changed by agreement of the parties. In most cases, you will need the assistance of a lawyer to make a change. Grounds for a change in the child support order include a material and substantial change in the circumstances of a child or a person affected by the order. Either parent may request a review of the order for child support every three years, or more frequently if there has been material and substantial change in circumstances, by contacting the Child Support Division of the Office of the Attorney General.

Q. I am under 18 years old and still in school. Can I be required to pay child support?

A. Yes. If you are the parent of a child, you are responsible for that child’s support even if you are still a minor. The court will consider your income or income potential and determine how much child support you should pay. This is true for both parents if the child is being cared for by a foster parent.

Q. Can I lose my driver’s license if I fail to pay child support?

A. There are at least 60 licensing agencies including, but not limited to driver’s license, professional licenses, including medical, dental, and law as well as hunting and fishing and other licenses that the State of Texas has issued to you. If you hold a license issued by the State of Texas and you owe more than three months of past-due child support and you are not in compliance with an existing court-ordered or voluntary repayment schedule, your license can be suspended.

Q. How does the license suspension work?

A. The Attorney General’s Child Support Division matches its caseload with computer tapes from different licensing agencies. When a match shows you meet the legal criteria for license suspension, the Attorney General will provide you with a warning and opportunity to resolve the delinquent support obligation. If you do not respond and resolve the problem, the case will be referred for administrative or judicial prosecution.