Last Updated on October 10, 2023 by Benson Varghese
The timeline for receiving child support after filing in Texas can vary significantly, influenced by numerous factors such as the cooperation of the noncustodial parent, the efficiency of the legal system, and the specifics of your individual case. With that said, most child support payments begin around two months after filing. This article explains the process of getting child support and the reasons why it can take even more than a couple of months to get child support. Let’s get right into, “how long does it take to get child support in Texas?”
Understanding the Child Support Process in Texas
Initial Filing and Service of Process
Upon filing for child support, the noncustodial parent must be officially notified of the case – a process known as “service of process.” This step can take anywhere from a few weeks to several months, depending on the ease of locating and serving the noncustodial parent.
Court Proceedings and Order Establishment
Once served, the noncustodial parent is required to respond on or before 10:00 a.m. on the Monday after the expiration of twenty days after the date of service according to Texas Rule of Civil Procedure 99. Subsequent court dates, mediations, and potential negotiations extend the timeline further. The duration of this phase hinges heavily on the complexity of the case and the willingness of both parties to reach an agreement.
Enforcement of Child Support Orders
After the child support order is established, the noncustodial parent is mandated to adhere to it. In instances of non-compliance, enforcement actions, which may include wage garnishments or contempt of court proceedings, can be initiated. The Texas Family Code § 158.001 mandates employers to commence with wage withholding no later than the first pay period after receiving the order. Learn more about enforcement of child support.
How Long Does a Non-Custodial Parent Pay Child Support in Texas?
In Texas, the non-custodial parent is typically obligated to pay child support until the child reaches 18 years of age or graduates from high school, whichever occurs later, according to Texas Family Code § 154.001. However, like any rule, exceptions exist. Emancipation is one; joining the military is another.
Extended Support for Special Circumstances
In instances where a child has a physical or mental disability, the court may order that child support continues indefinitely, even beyond the age of 18, to ensure the child’s needs are met.
College and Beyond: A Parental Agreement
While Texas law doesn’t mandate parents to provide support beyond high school, parents can mutually agree to extend support through college and potentially, graduate school.
How should child support be paid in Texas?
In Texas, there are several methods through which child support can be paid and tracked by the Attorney General’s Office:
Direct Deposit or Texas Payment Card: You can receive child support payments through direct deposit to your bank account or with the Texas Payment Card. More details can be found on the Office of the Attorney General’s website.
State Disbursement Unit (SDU): Payments can be made via check or money order to the State Disbursement Unit (SDU). The address for sending payments is: State Disbursement Unit (SDU) P.O. Box 659791 San Antonio, TX 78265-9791 Further details can be found here.
Online Payments through Smart e-Pay: The state of Texas offers a secure online system called Smart e-Pay for making child support payments online. You can visit tx.smartchildsupport.com to make payments. Additionally, there are new e-payment options available, and you can log in to your payment account here to begin using them. Payments can also be made by phone by calling (855) 853-8286.
Managing Online Account: The Office of the Attorney General provides an online tool for managing your child support case, which includes various services and programs related to paying and receiving child support, modifying child support, getting back on track, wage withholding, and enforcement. More information can be found here.
When can child support be taken from a paycheck in Texas?
In Texas, child support can be deducted directly from your paycheck through a process known as wage withholding. Here’s how it generally works:
Order to Withhold: The employer receives an “Order to Withhold Income for Child Support” from the Child Support Division of the Office of the Attorney General (OAG) or the court. This order instructs the employer to deduct the child support payment directly from the non-custodial parent’s (the parent who does not have primary custody of the child) paycheck. More details can be found on the Office of the Attorney General’s website.
Deduction of Payment: The specified child support payment amount is deducted from the non-custodial parent’s paycheck each pay period.
Payment to the Child Support Division: The employer sends the deducted amount directly to the Child Support Division.
Payment to the Custodial Parent: The Child Support Division processes the payment and sends it to the custodial parent (the parent who has primary custody of the child).
Legal Framework: Both Texas judicial writs of withholding and Texas administrative writs of withholding can be issued by the Texas OAG to deduct child support payments from the paycheck of an officer or employee. Additionally, spousal maintenance may be combined with a child support order. More details can be found here.
Garnishment Limits: While Texas uses the Consumer Credit Protection Act’s (CCPA) definition of earnings to determine which earnings are subject to garnishment limits, Texas garnishment law protects an employee’s disposable income more than the CCPA limits. More details can be found here.
Automatic Deduction: Federal and state law generally requires that a parent’s child support obligation be automatically deducted from his or her paycheck through a garnishment or income withholding order in most circumstances.
If you are in need of an attorney to enforce an existing child support order, give us a call at (817) 900-3220.