If you are not in a relationship with the parent of your child and you have sole or primary custody, then you are entitled to child support payments from your co-parent. Child support is court-ordered payment, typically due twice a month, that a non-custodial parent pays to support their child or children.

However, some parents run into issues when the other parent fails to pay their child support, only submits partial payments, or is consistently late in paying child support. Such parents are sometimes referred to as “deadbeat parents”. In such cases, a parent may wonder what their rights are and how they can collect on overdue child support payments

If you are not receiving the child support payments you are owed, it is best to speak with a family law attorney to discuss your options. You may have questions about what child support covers, how child support is determined, and how to collect overdue payments. Here are a few items to keep in mind as you navigate through this issue. 

How is Child Support Calculated?

In Texas, child support payments are typically calculated using a percentage model. The parent with primary custody (or custody for the most days each week) will likely receive child support, while the other parent will be asked to pay it. For one child, the child support payment is usually 20 percent of the obligor’s net monthly income. For each additional child, another 5 percent is added. For example, an obligor with three children would pay 30 percent of their net monthly income. 

What Does Child Support Cover?

Generally, child support in Texas is used to cover a child’s basic needs, such as food, clothing, shelter, and education. Child support can also be used to offset bills such as rent, mortgages and utilities. In addition, Texas is one of the states that requires medical child support. The parent paying child support might provide coverage through his or her health insurance, or might reimburse the other parent for the cost of health insurance. The cost should not exceed nine percent of that parent’s income. Both parents are responsible for medical expenses not covered by insurance. 

How Do I Collect Overdue Child Support?

The first step to take when looking to collect overdue child support is tracking and writing down each missed payment or partial payment. Your attorney will need this information to file a petition or motion for enforcement of child support. The next step is to schedule a court appearance to present the request to the court. The court will review the evidence of missed payments or partial payments and may find the owing parent “in contempt” and order them to pay the amount owed. The judge may also garnish wages—or determine that a certain amount of money be automatically withheld from the owing parent’s paycheck to be put toward child support. If the owing parent does not appear before the court, they may be arrested. 

Can I Increase the Amount Paid in Child Support?

The short answer is, “sometimes.” In Texas, child support modification depends on a “material and substantial change in circumstances,” meaning a serious and lasting change in your finances or requirements. This can apply to any of the parties involved. For a child, that can mean special medical, educational or psychological requirements, a change in medical insurance, or a new living arrangement. For the parent who doesn’t have custody, a serious change in circumstances can be a job loss, a substantial change in pay, or an inheritance. 

At Sandoval Law Firm we understand the stress of dealing with divorce, child custody and domestic violence. Our firm consists of founding attorney Raul Sandoval Jr. and a dedicated support staff. Mr. Sandoval earned his law degree from Texas Tech University School of Law. Since that time, he has been practicing family law in the Austin area, as well as teaching seminars, classes and other forms of professional development.