Can Child Support be Garnished?

When you owe child support, it’s important to keep up with payments because it is your financial obligation to your child. Child support is the money the non-custodial parent pays to the custodial parent to help with the cost of raising the children they share. The money is intended to be used for food, clothing, shelter, activities, tuition, and any other child-related expenses.

Child support is usually paid until the child turns 18 or graduates from high school, whichever occurs later. Despite being court-ordered, some people don’t keep up with their child support payments. If something happens and the original amount can not be paid, it’s important that it is communicated. This can prevent many problems from happening. If no communication is made and the payments are not made, there can be serious consequences. In the state of Texas, not paying child support is seen as a serious offense.

Whether you’re the one paying child support or receiving it, it’s important to not only know how much child support needs to be paid by law but what happens when it is not.

How is Child Support Calculated in Texas?

Texas child support guidelines are pretty cut and dry. The Lonestar state uses something called “guidelines child support” to determine how much child support needs to be paid. It is calculated as follows:

1 child = 20% of the noncustodial parent’s average monthly net resources

2 children = 25% of the noncustodial parent’s average monthly net resources

3 children = 30% of the noncustodial parent’s average monthly net resources

4 children = 35% of the noncustodial parent’s average monthly net resources

5 children = 40% of the noncustodial parent’s average monthly net resources

6 or more children = not less than 40% of the noncustodial parent’s average monthly net resources

(source: texaslawhelp.org)

But it’s not just monthly income that’s used to calculate and child support. Other income sources are considered. The amount of child support that needs to be paid is based on average monthly net resources. Net resources are determined by adding all the money the noncustodial receives monthly after making the following deductions:

  • Income Tax
  • Social Security Taxes
  • Non-discretionary retirement contributions if the noncustodial parent doesn’t pay social security taxes
  • Cost of health insurance or medical support if paid by the noncustodial parent
  • Union dues

Once this amount is determined, it must be paid as the court orders.  Texas child support guidelines state that all child support payments be paid through the Texas Child Support State Disbursement Unit. This assures that there will be a record of any payments made. There will be no confusion and a child support payment won’t be mistaken for a gift.

What Happens if One Parent Doesn’t Pay Child Support?

As we mentioned above, not paying child support is taken very seriously in Texas. If the non-custodial parent does not keep up with payments, the attorney of the custodial parent can petition the court to enforce the order. If the payments are still not made, any of the following can occur for the non-custodial parent:

  • Being sent to jail
  • Suspension of driver’s license or any professional licenses
  • Having a lien put against your property
  • Being ordered to pay all child support with interest
  • Wage garnishment

None of those are consequences that anyone wants to face. That’s why it’s best to stay on top of child support payments. The payments are used for the child’s needs so neglecting the payments is only hurting the child.

How Does Wage Garnishment Work for Child Support?

If one parent is not holding up their end of the child support agreement, the other parent can get a wage garnishment order from the court. In Texas, up to 50% of your disposable earnings can be garnished to pay domestic child support obligations. Disposable earnings refer to the money left over after an employer has made deductions required by law. This includes taxes, union dues, medical payments, and nondiscretionary retirement deductions.

When wages are garnished, a portion of wages is taken from a paycheck and delivered directly to the custodial parent. The non-custodial parent does not ever see that money. They receive any money that’s left after the child support payment is made.

For a wage garnishment order to go into effect, the court, custodial parent, or state agency must tell the employer. Once this is done, the employer will notify their employee about what is going to happen.

If one parent does not agree with the wage garnishment, they can request a court hearing to object. These objections include:

  • Objecting to the amount owed
  • Arguing that the amount left is too little to live on
  • Having custody of the child at the time the child support arrears began adding up

While the non-custodial parent can object, the court may not agree and may still call for the wages to be garnished. Many times, parents who owe child support are told to at least try to make an effort to pay some of what is owed. This is better than ignoring the payments altogether. If something happens which impacts your income, you can ask the court for a temporary reduction in the amount. This is not always granted.

Contact Illaraza Law to Learn More about Child Support in Texas

When you want to know more about can child support be garnished, contact Illaraza Law. We can explain child support guidelines to you and go over any child support issues.


We have helped many couples deal with child support issues while keeping the best interest of the child in mind. Through legal proceedings and mediation, we can help you with your case and the issues that arise. Call us today at 214-646-3253 so we can start to help you when it comes to your child support issues.

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