No one wants to receive a letter in the mail stating that you owe back pay on child support. But, yes, it is a possibility that you can be legally obligated to pay child support after the fact. This happens when a family court in Texas determines that you have not paid your fair share of child support to the other parent.
If you have received a letter in the mail that you owe back child support in Texas, then consider the reasons why you may have received this notification. I’ll also help you determine the best course of legal action to help resolve the situation as best as possible to protect your financial position.
Reasons You Would Owe Back Child Support in Texas
Section 154 of the Texas Family Code outlines the circumstances where the court may order one parent to pay what is legally called “retroactive child support.” The main two reasons are the following:
- The parent that owes back pay has not previously been ordered to pay support for the child.
- The parent that owes back pay was not a party to a suit in which support was ordered.
In other words, it has now been determined that a person owes child support after previously not being named as the obligor. There are many special circumstances where this could be the case, and these circumstances vary case by case.
For example, the mother of the child may not have been aware of who the father of her child was. Now, the biological father has been determined, and this individual could be ordered to pay retroactive child support.
When a court orders retroactive child support, they must apply the child support guidelines that are outlined in Section 154 to help determine the amount to be paid. The same schedule as a standard child support order in Texas applies:
- 1 child: 20% of Obligor’s Net Resources
- 2 children: 25% of Obligor’s Net Resources
- 3 children: 30% of Obligor’s Net Resources
- 4 children: 35% of Obligor’s Net Resources
- 5 children: 40% of Obligor’s Net Resources
- 6+ children: No less than the amount for 5 children
Other Reasons Why a Texas Court Would Order Backpay
According to the Texas Family Code, there are additional circumstances where the court may order a parent who is subject to a previous child support court order to pay retroactive child support:
- The previous child support order was terminated as a result of the marriage or re-marriage of the child’s parents.
- The child’s parents separated after the marriage or re-marriage.
- A new child support order was sought after the date of the separation.
You may wonder what the starting point is for determining the amount of backpay you would be ordered to pay in these situations. According to the law, the court may order retroactive child support going back to the date of the separation of the child’s parents.
The courts are also encouraged to consider the obligor’s net resources during the relevant time period when determining the amount of backpay. Factors they should consider include the following:
- Whether the mother of the child made any previous attempts to notify the obligor of his paternity or probable paternity
- Whether the obligor had knowledge of his paternity or probable paternity
- Whether the order for child support back pay will impose undue financial hardship on the obligor or the obligor’s family
- Whether the obligor has provided actual support or other necessaries before the filing of the action
This captures the importance of having records and documentation of your relationship with the child’s mother. Being able to prove that you were not aware of your obligation or that you attempted to provide a measure of care outside of paying child support will help your case to reduce the amount of child support owed.
Ultimately, the court is asked to determine a “reasonable” amount of child support that is also “in the best interest of the child.” In other words, the court must weigh the situation. Would causing you financial difficulty to make up for lost time not paying child support negatively impact your ability to provide care for the child in your role as their parent?
Contact Me to Discuss Back Child Support in Texas
If you recently received a letter stating that you owe retroactive child support, contact me right away to discuss your case. I know this can be stressful anticipating, a major impact on your finances.
I provide legal support for child support cases in Fort Bend County, Brazoria County, and Harris County. I’ll evaluate your situation and help you make the best argument before the court to help you arrive at the best possible financial outcome.
I practice family law exclusively so that I can provide you with expert legal representation in the area of child custody matters. Contact me today at 281-944-5485 or 979-267-7660 to further discuss your back child support obligations. I’m here to help!