Texas Child Support, Medical Support and Dental Support

In Texas, the non-custodial parent usually pays child support, medical support and dental support to the custodial parent.

The non-custodial parent is the one who does not have the right to choose the child's main residence. He or she can be a joint managing conservator or possessory conservator, or may not be a conservator at all.

You need to include child support in your parenting plan. Let the Custody X Change app help you step by step.

Make My Texas Plan Now

If your child has ever received benefits from Medicaid or Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF), the attorney general’s office will be involved in establishing support for your family. The attorney general’s processes for assigning support are slightly different, but the formula and other details below will still apply to your case.

As long as the attorney general’s office is not involved in your case, parents can agree to their own arrangement for child, medical and dental support. If a judge considers the arrangement in the child’s best interest, he or she will approve it. For the best chance of getting a judge to sign off on your support arrangement, follow the state’s calculation guidelines (below) or use a neutral professional to draw up your plan (a mediator, arbitrator or collaborative law team).

Whenever you submit a parenting plan to the court — whether it's at the court's request, as evidence in a trial, or as part of a settlement — the specifics of child, medical and dental support should be included.

Texas child support formula

Child support is designed to help the custodial conservator pay expenses associated with raising a child, such as the cost of housing, food, clothing and child care.

The state issues guidelines for how much a non-custodial parent should pay in child support. Judges nearly always rule in line with the guidelines, but if circumstances require, they can rule as they see fit.

The guideline formula does not take into account how much time you spend with your child or the type of conservatorship you have. In Texas, child support is based only on the non-custodial parent’s income and number of children.

If you are the non-custodial parent, follow these steps to see how much child support you owe under state guidelines.

Step 1: Calculate your monthly net resources

Start with your yearly gross income. This is the money you receive in a year, including: compensation from your job, unemployment benefits, Social Security retirement or disability payments, alimony, income from investments, net income from rental properties and more.

Yearly gross income does not include: your spouse’s resources, payments for foster care, Temporary Assistance for Needy Families benefits or Supplemental Security Income.

Note that if you have chosen not to work or to make less money than possible, a judge may calculate your gross income as if you were earning minimum wage for 40 hours a week.

Now, divide your yearly total by 12 to get your average monthly gross income.

Once you have your monthly gross income, subtract the amount you pay each month in:

  • Social Security taxes
  • Federal income taxes (Use the rate for a single person.)
  • State income taxes
  • Union dues
  • Medical and/or dental support (Scroll down for more information.)

The resulting number reflects your monthly net resources.

If your monthly net resources exceed $8,550, speak to a lawyer. The standard child support guidelines will not apply to you.

Step 2: Determine how many of your children are eligible

A child qualifies for support until he or she graduates from high school or turns 18 (whichever is later). Children with disabilities may be eligible longer: until they recover from the disability or until a specific date. Children become ineligible for support when they marry, join the military or are emancipated before they turn 18.

Count how many of your children named in this case qualify for support, as well as how many of your other children qualify.

Step 3: Determine the percentage of monthly net resources you will owe

The following chart shows what percent of your monthly net resources you will owe the custodial parent in this case each month. The top row represents the number of children named in your current court case who are eligible for child support. The left column represents the number of other eligible children you have.

Step 4: Apply the percentage to your monthly net resources

Apply the percentage you determined in Step 3 to the monthly net resources you calculated in Step 1.

For example, if your monthly net resources average $4,000, and you have only one child eligible for child support, take 20 percent of $4,000 to arrive at $800. This is the amount you will pay in child support each month, according to state guidelines.

If your monthly net resources are $6,000, and you have two eligible children named in the current suit, as well as two eligible children from another relationship, take 20.63 percent of $6,000 to arrive at $1,237.80. This is the amount you will pay in child support each month to the other parent in this suit, according to state guidelines.

Additional notes on the child support formula

Your monthly child support will change as each child becomes ineligible (for example, by turning 18 or graduating high school). When this happens, you can predict the new amount you will owe by using the chart above and your updated number of eligible children. Contact your Domestic Relations Office at least 45 days before you make your final payment on a child.

The court doesn’t have to make child support due on a monthly basis. A judge can also order child support paid on a different schedule, in a lump sum, as an annuity purchase or through a property transfer.

In addition, a court can order a parent to pay "retroactive" or ‘back" child support if the parent didn’t live with or help support the child in the past.

The attorney general’s office has a child support calculator to help you predict the amount of support the court will order in your case, as well as whether you qualify for a modification. (See details on modifications below.)

Child support for 50/50 possession

Occasionally — and increasingly — parents agree to equal parenting time in a settlement, so neither one is the "custodial conservator." In this case, the parents can also agree to any child support structure that works for them and the child, subject to a judge’s approval.

When judges award this 50/50 possession of their own volition, which they do very infrequently, the question of how to calculate child support becomes more complicated. Several arrangements have been used across the state:

  • Sometimes when parents have similar incomes, judges don’t order any child support. Medical and dental support are still required by law. (Scroll down for details.)
  • A judge might order each parent to pay for standard expenses during their possession time (food, housing, etc.) and split the child’s other expenses evenly (education, extracurricular activities, etc.).
  • Lastly, a judge may calculate what each parent would pay if he or she were deemed "custodial," then order the parent with the higher figure to pay the difference to the parent with the lower figure.

Speak to an attorney to learn how your court usually awards child support in cases with equal possession time.

Medical and dental support

These are designed to cover the costs of a child’s medical and dental insurance, as well as medical and dental care. They must be paid in addition to any child support.

A young person eligible for child support is also eligible for medical and dental support. (See above.)

Ordinarily, the parent paying child support is required to provide the child with medical and dental insurance offered by his or her employer.

If that’s not possible, the parent receiving child support is usually ordered to get coverage through an employer. The other parent will reimburse the costs, up to 9 percent of his or her yearly gross income for medical insurance, and up to 1.5 percent for dental insurance.

If neither parent can provide insurance, or if the child is covered by Medicaid, the court can order the parent paying child support to give a set dollar amount to the other parent each month.

Typically, each parent pays half of medical and dental costs not covered by insurance. If the parents have drastically different incomes, the judge may order an alternate breakdown.

Parents also have the option to come to their own agreement about who pays for insurance and how out-of-pocket expenses are split, subject to the court’s approval.

How to pay child, medical and dental support

When support is ordered, a judge will sign an Income Withholding Order for Support.

The withholding order goes to the employer of the parent ordered to pay. It tells the employer to withhold a specific amount of money from the parent’s paychecks and send that money to the Texas Child Support Disbursement Unit. The unit will then forward the money to the parent owed.

In some cases, parents can agree not to have the withholding order shared with the employer. In that situation, the parent ordered to pay child support must send payments to the Child Support Disbursement Unit on his or her own. You cannot pay child, medical or dental support directly to the other parent; it needs to go through the proper channels to be documented.

Modifying Texas child, medical and dental support

You can ask the court to modify the support you’re required to pay if any of the following is true:

  • You’ve had a substantial change in circumstances.
  • The state has issued new support guidelines that would change your monthly payment by at least 20 percent or $100.
  • It’s been more than three years since your order was issued or modified.

You and the other parent cannot agree to a new amount without going to court. The court has to enforce the original support order until it is legally modified or the children become ineligible.

Enforcing Texas child, medical and dental support

If the other parent doesn’t pay child support as ordered, contact the Office of the Attorney General.

Failure to comply with a court order for child support can have serious consequences.

Any delinquent child support greater than the monthly amount ordered accrues interest at a rate of 6 percent per year.

The party owing money can be found in contempt of court, which is punishable by up to six months of jail time, a $500 fine per violation, and an order to pay the other party’s legal fees.

A judge may also take the owing parent’s federal income tax refund or lottery winnings, order a lien against their property, or suspend their licenses for driving, hunting, fishing or practicing a profession.

If a party doesn’t show up to a hearing about delinquent child support, the court can issue a warrant for his or her arrest. After the arrest, bond is often paid directly to the parent owed.

The court can also place a parent on community supervision for not following orders, which may involve:

  • Regular visits to a community supervision officer
  • Mediation
  • Counseling
  • Employment assistance services
Possession versus support

Courts view child, medical and dental support as separate from possession and access.

This means you cannot refuse to let the other parent see your children as a consequence for not paying child support. Nor can you refuse to pay child support if the other parent won’t let you see the children.

However, in very special circumstances, a judge may take your possession time into account when deciding how much monthly support to order.

If you can show your possession time far exceeds what is considered standard for a non-custodial parent, you may be able to convince a judge to deviate from support guidelines and order reduced payments.

If your order calls for 50/50 possession, but you aren’t actually spending equal time with the child (because splitting a child’s schedule perfectly in half is near impossible), knowing what percentage of time you receive can help you present a fair support proposal to the court. There are no support guidelines for cases without a custodial conservator, so an accurate parenting time total may provide a judge with direction.

The easiest way to calculate your exact possession time is to use the Custody X Change app. Attorneys, judges and parents often rely on estimates, because counting parenting time is tedious. But Custody X Change can instantly tell you precisely how much parenting time you receive in a given month, year, or period of any length.

Including child, medical and dental support in your parenting plan

Texas parenting plans must include information on child, medical and dental support.

When you present your plan to the court — either as trial evidence or as part of a settlement — it’s critical you use clear language to describe your support arrangements so you avoid confusion and disputes down the line. You must also be careful not to omit any necessary details.

The Custody X Change app walks you through common child support, medical support and dental support stipulations so you can choose which to include in your plan. Developed with family law attorneys, the stipulations can be customize with your own dollar amounts and percentages, or you can write your own unique provisions.

It’s a sure way to get a plan that’s tailored to your family AND meets court standards for language, formatting and detail.

You need to include child support in your parenting plan. Let the Custody X Change app help you step by step.

Make My Texas Plan Now

You need to include child support in your parenting plan. Let the Custody X Change app help you step by step.

Make My Plan