In Texas, terminating child support is a multi-step process. Here’s how to terminate child support in Texas
The court must legally terminate child support to uphold it. Otherwise, if a parent stops paying before stopping child support withholding, the paying parent may be held in contempt by a court or face adverse consequences.
What is child support?
Except for joint physical custody cases, child support is money that a non-custodial parent pays the custodial parent (the parent that a child primarily lives with).
Under Texas law, the amount of time a parent spends with the child (physical custody) determines child support payments. A court may order one or both parents to support the child:
- Until the child is 18 years old
- Until the child is emancipated
- Until the child’s death
- Indefinitely if the child is disabled
Child Support Payments in Texas
Under Texas law (Section 154.004), a parent can pay child support in:
- Periodic payments,
- Lump-sum payments,
- Annuity purchases,
- Pension or other employee benefits, or
- Any combination of the above
A non-custodial parent may pay child support by setting up a direct deposit (Form 1TAC 55.803) to pay on time. Payments from the custodial parent to the noncustodial parent are documented through this form and vice versa through this one. Any other support forms for different child support circumstances may be found on the Texas Attorney General’s website.
Calculation of Child Support in Texas
Under Texas law, the amount of child support a noncustodial parent may pay depends on a percentage of:
- The average monthly net resources of the parent
- The number of children
Termination of Child Support Duties in Texas
Obligations to support the custodial parent in rearing a child are put into place to ensure that the primary parent has ample resources to care for the well-being and health of the child. However, the court may terminate child support when the child no longer needs assistance, either due to age or the below circumstances.
Unless otherwise ordered, the court terminates child support in Texas after:
- The child marries
- The child dies
- The child turns 18 years or older or failed to comply with child support requirements
- The child is no longer disabled
- The child enlists in the army
- Genetic testing excludes the child from a parent-child relationship
- The marriage or remarriage of both the child’s parents unless a non-parent is the new guardian of a child
Other reasons to terminate child support depend on the status of the custodial and noncustodial parent. The court may terminate child support if:
- The noncustodial parent no longer has parental rights
- Both parents decide to marry or remarry
- The living situation of both parents change
- The financial situation of the noncustodial parent changes
- The noncustodial parent can no longer pay or earn income
- Both parents agree support is not necessary
- The child’s circumstances change
- There is a custodial change
The Process to Terminate Child Support in Texas
Texas state law does not explicitly state when a parent no longer needs to pay child support. However, the noncustodial parent may petition to reduce or eliminate child support. If the noncustodial parent becomes jobless or disabled, the parent may request the family court to reduce child support costs.
Though state laws vary on procedural tasks to terminating child support, a noncustodial parent must continue to pay until the court grants the termination. Failing to follow through may result in being held in contempt of the court. Other consequences may include the following:
- Go to jail
- Pay fines
- Pay lawyer fees to the custodial parent
- Suspension of parentage license
- Lien against the property of the noncustodial parent
If a noncustodial parent struggles financially, they should reach out to the custodial parent and inform them of the situation. A family lawyer may be necessary.
Reaching a qualifying event in time does not automatically terminate child support. The noncustodial parent must legally file a Petition to Terminate Withholding for Child Support. To legally end child support obligations after making a Petition, the non-custodial parent must serve the papers to the other parent for the court’s review.
1. Fill out necessary forms
File and make a copy of the following forms:
- Petition to Terminate Withholding for Child Support
- Waiver of Service OR Answer to Petition to Terminate Withholding for Child Support
- The custodial parent should complete the Waiver of Service and sign it in front of a notary
- If the other party refuses to sign the papers, a private process server or a non-biased third party should serve the papers
- Order to Employer to Terminate Withholding for Support
- Both parties should sign this form
2. Turn in the Petition
Both parties should copy the completed forms and turn them into the district clerk’s office. The clerk will “file-stamp” all forms and return the copies to the parent filing for termination.
3. Serve the Petition
A third party, either a sheriff or private process server, must serve the court papers. Court papers may be served by one of the five following methods:
- Personal service (deal)
- Substituted Service
- Service by posting
- Service by publication
Under Texas law, the respondent has 20 days to respond to the petitioner. If the respondent fails to respond, the case may be finished by default if the petitioner can produce a Return of Service form dated at least 10 days ago.
Bring all signed forms to the court. If the judge agrees to stop withholding child support, the judge will sign the appropriate order. Keep a copy of the signed order and send another copy to the employer withheld support.
FAQs About Terminating Child Support in Texas
Related: Texas Child Support FAQs
What is the difference between terminating child support and closing child support?
Terminating child support legally releases the noncustodial parent from paying child support and stops the court from withholding child support. Closing child support occurs when both parties agree that child support is no longer necessary.
When can child support be terminated in Texas?
Under Texas law, when a child turns 18 or reaches the age of majority.
What is retrospective child support?
Retrospective child support may be ordered if a parent formerly obligated to pay child support may also have to pay retrospectively if the previous order was terminated by the remarriage or marriage of the parents, their subsequent separation, and new support order is determined.
What are arrears?
Arrears are overdue amounts of child support. If a noncustodial parent chooses to terminate child support, the court may order the arrears to be paid during the hearing. A parent is incentivized to pay support on time since the interest rate for missed payments is 6%.
Does terminating child support cost money?
Yes. Learn the specific fee from the district clerk’s office in the county the order was made. If the petitioner cannot afford the court fees, a judge may waive the fees with a Statement of Inability to Afford Payment of Court Costs form.
Does child support terminate on the death of the noncustodial parent paying child support in Texas?
No. Under Texas law, child support continues despite the death of the noncustodial parent (obligee).