Retroactive Child Support in Texas

The Longworth Law Firm, P.C. – Houston Divorce Lawyer, Texas Child Support Series – Retroactive Child Support in Texas.

Suing for Back Child Support in Texas

Sometimes after a child support order has been issued by the court, one of the parents may seek to establish a retroactive child support case. Retroactive child support means that the other parent has to pay child support that they did not pay in the time period before the child support order was issued.  A parent that has not been paying child support may find themselves owing a lot of money because of this.

Mother Suing for Retroactive Child Support in Texas

Texas Retroactive Child Support Law

Tx Family Code 154.009

Under Texas Family Code Section 154.009 the courts may order retroactive child support if…

Sec. 154.009. RETROACTIVE CHILD SUPPORT. (a) The court may order a parent to pay retroactive child support if the parent:

(1) has not previously been ordered to pay support for the child; and

(2) was not a party to a suit in which support was ordered.

(b) In ordering retroactive child support, the court shall apply the child support guidelines provided by this chapter.

(c) Unless the Title IV-D agency is a party to an agreement concerning support or purporting to settle past, present, or future support obligations by prepayment or otherwise, an agreement between the parties does not reduce or terminate retroactive support that the agency may request.

(d) Notwithstanding Subsection (a), the court may order a parent subject to a previous child support order to pay retroactive child support if:

(1) the previous child support order terminated as a result of the marriage or remarriage of the child’s parents;

(2) the child’s parents separated after the marriage or remarriage; and

(3) a new child support order is sought after the date of the separation.

(e) In rendering an order under Subsection (d), the court may order retroactive child support back to the date of the separation of the child’s parents.

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The fact that retroactive child support exists is a clear indication that even without a child support court order, a parent is still responsible for child support.

However, a parent cannot be forced to pay child support without a court order and Texas Family Law does not mandate retroactive child support. This does not mean that the asking parent cannot ask for both current child support and retroactive child support.

The court has the prerogative to decide whether the non-supporting parent should pay retroactive child support based on the facts.

Time Period – Retroactive Child Support

The court can only look back four prior years when determining the total amount of retroactive child support. But more years can be added if the obligor tried to avoid the establishment of child support obligation even though the obligor knew the child is theirs.  Generally, the factors that determine how far back a parent must make support back-payments include:

  • The child’s mother made attempts to notify the obligor that he is the father or a probable father of the child
  • The obligor knew of his paternity or possible paternity
  • The retroactive child support order will possibly cause a financial hardship for the obligor
  • If the obligor provided some support or necessities before the child support order was given

How to Calculate Back Child Support Payments

The court will use the same formula used when calculating child support to determine the amount of retroactive child support.  To determine the total amount of retroactive child support the court will consider:

  • The net monthly income of the person ordered to pay child support
  • The number of children involved
  • The number of months the child support should have been paid and was not paid

Avoiding Back Child Support

Do not wait for a court order to start paying child support for your children if you want to avoid retroactive child support. Make sure you document the support you provide for your children because the documents can be used as proof in court. These documents can be things such as money orders, checks and so on.