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Child Support Laws: What You Need to Know in Plano, Texas

Child support is an important legal obligation that arises when a couple with a child separates or divorces. Under Texas law, child support is mandatory and is intended to provide financial assistance to the custodial parent to help them meet the child's needs. In this article, we will take an in-depth look at child support laws in Plano, Texas, and help you understand what you need to know.

Understanding Child Support in Texas The Purpose of Child Support

The primary purpose of child support is to ensure that both parents contribute to the financial needs of their child. Child support payments are used to pay for the child's basic needs, such as food, clothing, and shelter, as well as other expenses like healthcare and education.

It is important to note that child support is not intended to punish the non-custodial parent or to provide a windfall for the custodial parent. Instead, it is meant to ensure that both parents share in the financial responsibility of raising their child.

How Child Support is Calculated in Texas

The amount of child support payable in Texas is calculated based on a percentage of the non-custodial parent's income. The percentage varies depending on the number of children involved. For one child, the non-custodial parent is required to pay 20% of their net resources (income). This percentage increases for each additional child.

Net resources are calculated by subtracting certain deductions from the non-custodial parent's income. These deductions can include taxes, social security contributions, union dues, and health insurance premiums. Additionally, certain deviations from the guideline calculations may be necessary in cases of extreme hardship, the needs of the child, or other factors.

It is important to note that child support payments are not set in stone and can be modified if there is a change in circumstances, such as a significant increase or decrease in income for either parent or a change in custody arrangements.

Factors Affecting Child Support Amounts

Several factors can influence the amount of child support payable in Texas, including the income of each parent, the number of children involved, and the parents' custody arrangement. Other factors that may be considered include the child's educational and healthcare expenses, the child's special needs, and the parents' financial obligations to other children.

For example, if a child has a medical condition that requires ongoing treatment or therapy, the non-custodial parent may be required to contribute more to cover those expenses. Similarly, if a child has special educational needs, such as requiring a tutor or attending a specialized school, the non-custodial parent may be required to contribute to those expenses as well.

It is important to note that child support is not just a financial obligation, but also a legal obligation. Failure to pay child support can result in serious consequences, such as wage garnishment, suspension of a driver's license, or even imprisonment.

Overall, child support is an important aspect of ensuring that both parents contribute to the financial needs of their child. By understanding how child support is calculated and the factors that can influence the amount payable, parents can work together to provide the best possible care for their child.

Establishing Paternity in Texas Voluntary Acknowledgment of Paternity

Establishing paternity is the first step in enforcing child support obligations. In Texas, paternity can be established voluntarily or through a court order. If the father is not listed on the birth certificate, but both parents agree on paternity, they can complete a voluntary acknowledgment of paternity form.

This form establishes the father as the legal parent and provides him with the same rights and obligations as a father named in a court order. This process is straightforward and can be completed at the hospital when the child is born or at a later time.

Paternity Testing and Court Orders

When there is a dispute about paternity, one of the parents can request a DNA test to establish the biological father. If the test results confirm paternity, a court order can be obtained to make it official.

Once paternity is established, the father is obligated to pay child support. If the father refuses to pay, the custodial parent can seek enforcement through legal channels.

The Child Support Process in Plano, Texas Filing for Child Support

The process for filing for child support in Texas involves completing an application and providing supporting documentation, such as proof of income and paternity. The parties will be scheduled for a hearing to determine the amount of child support payable based on Texas guidelines.

Child Support Hearings and Negotiations

If the parties cannot agree on child support, a hearing will be scheduled, and a judge will make the decision. It is important to have legal representation in these cases to ensure that your rights and interests are protected.

Alternatively, parties can hire a mediator to try and reach an agreement outside of court. Mediation can be a less costly and time-consuming way to resolve disputes and negotiate child support arrangements.

Enforcing Child Support Orders

If the non-custodial parent fails to pay child support, there are legal remedies available to the custodial parent. This may include wage garnishment, seizure of bank accounts, and suspension of licenses.

It is important to note that missed payments do not relieve the non-custodial parent of their obligation to pay the arrears owed.

Modifying Child Support Orders Circumstances for Modification

Child support orders can be modified in Texas if there is a substantial change in either parent's financial circumstances. This may include loss of income, a significant increase in income, or an increase in expenses related to the child's care.

The Modification Process in Texas

If you believe that your child support order should be modified, you can submit a petition to the court to request a modification in the order. You must provide adequate proof of the change in circumstances to support your request.

Child Support and Parenting Time How Parenting Time Affects Child Support

Parenting time, also known as visitation, can have an impact on child support obligations. In Texas, the amount of support payable is based on the number of children and the non-custodial parent's income, but the time the non-custodial parent spends with the child can also be a factor.

Parenting time can be used to reduce child support payments if the non-custodial parent spends a substantial amount of time with the child. However, it is important to remember that visitation and parenting time are determined based on what is in the best interests of the child and not as a means to reduce child support payments.

Visitation Rights and Child Support Obligations

It is important to note that visitation rights and child support obligations are separate legal issues. Even if the non-custodial parent is not granted visitation rights or is behind on child support payments, these issues are not connected, and the custodial parent cannot withhold visitation rights as a means of enforcing child support orders.


Child support laws in Plano, Texas, are intended to ensure that both parents contribute to their child's financial needs. Understanding the legal obligations and procedures involved in establishing paternity, obtaining, and modifying child support orders is crucial for all parents.

If you have any questions or concerns about child support laws and procedures, consult an experienced family law attorney to protect your rights and the best interests of your child.

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