Understanding Back Child Support in Texas: Duties, Rights, and Legal Options

Understanding one’s duties and rights as they pertain to child support in Texas can be difficult, especially when it comes to back child support. However, the basis of all support obligations is this: all parents have a duty to provide for their child financially. When a court issues an order requiring a parent to make child support payments, the parent must make those payments in full and on time; otherwise, they are in violation of the law.

Keeping the above in mind, back child support is something that you may be entitled to or be ordered to pay as part of your child support case. Consider the following information about back child support in Texas. Be sure to call our experienced family law attorney at the Law Office of Ben Carrasco for information specific to your situation.

What is “Back” Child Support?

Back child support is referred to as “retroactive child support” under the Texas Family Code, the issue of which is addressed in Section 154.009 of the Texas Family Code. Essentially, retroactive child support is back pay for child support that should have been paid to a custodial parent but was not. It may be ordered in addition to, not in place of, a current support obligation.

According to the section of Texas’ code cited above, the court may order a parent to make retroactive child support payments when:

● The parent had not previously been ordered to pay support for the child;

● The parent was not a party in a suit that resulted in an order of child support.

The law above speaks to a situation in which a parent has never been asked to pay child support and is now being asked to make payments for a time in the past. The other situation in which a court may order a parent to make retroactive child support payments is in the event that a parent has been ordered to pay child support and:

● The previous child support order was terminated as a result of remarriage;

● The child’s parents separated after the marriage and divorce/remarriage; and

● A new child support order if money was sought after the date of separation.

In this second case, retroactive child support is ordered to compensate the parent/child for the time between the conclusion of a previous child support order and the beginning of a new one.

How is Back Child Support Calculated in Texas?

In determining whether or not a custodial parent is entitled to retroactive child support payments, and if so, how much those payments should be, the court will consider several factors outlined in Texas Family Code Section 154.131. These factors include, but are not limited to:

● The net resources of the party from whom support is being asked during the relevant period;

● Whether or not the mother of the child (custodial parent) made an effort to contact the father and notify him of his paternity;

● Whether or not the child dies father knew of his paternity or probable paternity;

● Whether or not asking the party to make retroactive child support payments will impose an undue hardship on the party; and

● Whether or not the father (party from whom support is sought) provided any support to the child otherwise before the action for retroactive child support was filed.

Keep in mind that the court presumes that a back child support order that goes back no further in time than four years is appropriate and is within the child’s best interests. This means that even if more than four years have passed without child support payments, the amount of retroactive child support ordered cannot exceed more than four years’ worth of support.

However, this presumption is refuted by any evidence that the father, from whom support is being sought, knew or should have.

Can I Sue my Former Partner for Back Child Support Owed

Yes! Filing a civil action against your former spouse, partner, or child’s father asking for retroactive child support is exactly what you should do if you believe you are entitled to back child support. Again, this type of support back request is ordered by a court when a father has not been paying child support, either as a result of a court order not being in place or a lapse between child support orders.

It is important to note that suing for back child support can be lengthy and may involve the court system. An experienced family law attorney can help guide you through the process and make sure your rights are protected. Additionally, the court may order the non-paying parent to pay a lump sum payment or may set up an indefinite support plan.

How Should I Handle Child Support Payments Going Forward?

It is important to note that back child support is not the same as standard child support. Once a back child support order is enacted by a court, the father may also be liable for present-day child support payments. If you are a parent being asked to make child support payments, have an existing child support order, or want to ask the court for more child support payments, it is wise to consult a lawyer. If an order is in place, you must make full and timely payments to avoid consequences.

Income withholding is one method that can be used to ensure timely child support payments. Under this process, child support payments are automatically deducted from the paying parent’s paycheck and sent directly to the custodial parent. Another option families have is to set up a payment plan or agree to a lump sum payment.

It is also important to note that the court may modify a child support order if circumstances change significantly. For example, if the paying parent loses their job or experiences a decrease or significant change in income, they may be able to seek a modification of the child support order.

Our Family Law Attorney can Help!

Understanding retroactive child support payments in Texas can be confusing, especially when dealing with mental disability, the death of a child, or other unique circumstances. If you think you are entitled to back pay for child support or are being asked to pay retroactive child support you don’t think you owe, our lawyer can help. We understand the complexities of the child support process and can provide guidance and support throughout the process.

Additionally, if you are seeking custody or substantial care of your children, we can help you navigate the court system and determine the best course of action to protect your rights and the interests of your children. Call the Law Office of Ben Carrasco today for a consultation to learn more.

About the Author
Ben Carrasco is a highly skilled family law attorney based in Austin, Texas, known for his extensive expertise in family law and business litigation. While his primary focus is family law, Ben brings a wealth of experience in litigating diverse business disputes, ranging from breach of contract and collections to business torts, fraud, and real estate matters. In his family law practice, Ben navigates all aspects of the field, including divorce, child custody, support, property division, and more, offering clients expert guidance throughout the litigation process. His legal journey began in complex commercial litigation, initially with a global law firm and later with a prominent Austin-based firm. However, driven by a desire to make a direct impact on people's lives and embrace the human element of the law, Ben transitioned to family law, a decision that has proven to be deeply rewarding. A proud Austin native with roots in California, Ben completed his undergraduate studies at the University of California, Berkeley, before earning his law degree at Stanford Law School, where he excelled in legal writing and served as an associate editor of the Stanford Law and Policy Review.