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How to Apply for Child Support Under Texas Law

Sophia Merton
February 9, 2024

Child support exists in order to make sure that both parents are contributing financially to a child’s upbringing. A court order can result in child support in a number of different types of court cases, including divorce, child custody cases, and paternity cases. In this article, we’re going to look at how to apply for child support under Texas law.

If you want the short story, there are basically two ways to directly apply for child support in Texas. The first is to create an account online and apply through the Texas Office of the Attorney General website. The second is to request a physical application over the phone, which will then be sent to you through the mail.

Let’s take a closer look at what you need to know about the application process and child support laws in general.

How to Apply for Child Support Under Texas Law

There are two different ways you can apply for child support in Texas:

  1. Apply online
  2. Apply by mail

woman applying for child support online in texas

As a part of your application, you will need to provide specific information about you, the other parent, and your child or children. Some of the types of info you’ll probably need to have ready when applying include:

  • Phone number
  • Driver’s license number
  • Social security number
  • Your attorney’s info (if you are working with an attorney)
  • Employment history

How to Apply for Child Support Online in Texas

In order to apply online, you’ll need to start your application on the Texas Office of the Attorney General website. This requires that you create an online account, which allows you to:

  • Save your application before you complete it (filling out the application can take an hour or so)
  • Check on your application’s status
  • Track and view child support payments
  • Manage your child support case

woman filling out child support forms online in texas

Creating an account involves giving the following information:

  • Your first and last name
  • Your email address
  • Your phone number
  • Your language preference

If you already have an online profile, you can log in to your existing account to start the application process.

How to Apply for Child Support By Mail in Texas

If you want to apply by mail, you can call the Child Support Division at (800) 252-8014.

person filling out a physical form for child support in texas

They will then send you a physical application in the mail. It’s worth noting that going this route will take longer than applying online.

Understanding Child Support in Texas

Child support in Texas exists to ensure that children are financially supported by both of their parents.

These payments can go toward a variety of costs, including:

  • Housing
  • Food
  • Daycare
  • School supplies
  • Extracurricular activities

For more information about the basics of child support in Texas, check out these guides:

Who Pays For Child Support?

It is common in custody arrangements for a child to primarily live with one parent. When a child resides with one parent more than the other, the parent they live with is known as the “custodial” parent.

girl whose parent applied for child support in texas sitting on steps

The other parent, known as the “non-custodial” parent, will typically have visitation rights. The non-custodial payment is the one who makes payments (and is sometimes referred to as the “obligor.”)

Are you wondering what your life will look like after divorce as a stay-at-home mom? Check out our list of seven things you’ll want to know.

Who Receives Child Support?

As discussed above, the parent that a child lives with most of the time is known as the custodial parent. They receive child support payments from the non-custodial parent. Those that receive payments as the custodial parent are known as the “obligee.”)

Are you entering a divorce and you’re wondering who will end up being the custodial parent? Make sure you check out our guide to who gets the kids after the divorce in Texas.

How Long Does Child Support Last?

In most cases, child support lasts until a child turns eighteen or until they graduate from high school, whichever occurs later.

However, child support can continue on as long as the child requires it if the child has a disability. Furthermore, parents who owe back child support need to pay what they owe in full regardless of whether the child has turned eighteen or graduated from high school. People who end their parental rights still have to pay what they owe in back child support.

What Types of Court Cases Can Involve Child Support?

Child support orders can be a part of a number of different types of court cases.

These include:

If you need to get a child support order, you may choose to file the application yourself or hire a lawyer. When you work with an attorney, there is the benefit of having a legal professional advocate for you during your hearing and keep you informed of your rights.

If your case is contested but you are worried about the cost of hiring a lawyer, you can also contact the Child Support Division of the Office of the Attorney General (OAG). While they are able to go to court in order to pursue child custody, support, and visitation orders, they don’t represent you in the same way an attorney would.

Are you a father involved in a divorce or a custody case? Make sure you take a look at our post about a father’s rights in Texas after a divorce.

What Happens If the Noncustodial Parent Doesn’t Pay Child Support?

You will want to contact the Child Support Division of the Office of the Attorney General if the noncustodial parent hasn’t been making their payments. Once you have gotten in touch with the office, you’ll be able to learn more about how to file an enforcement action.

In some cases, you might not want to involve the Office of the Attorney General or wait for them to take action. You are able to enforce child support orders without going through the OAG and instead file your own enforcement case, but it’s generally advised to go through the OAG.

The Two Main Legal Processes to Establish, Modify, or Enforce Child Support

In Texas, there are two primary legal processes that deal with setting up, changing, and enforcing court orders having to do with child support as well as medical and dental support.

The first of these is the Child Support Review Process (CSRP,) which is an administrative process that usually takes place at a local office of the Child Support Division. During this process, it's common for a Child Support Officer (CSO) as well as both parties to be present. In most cases, this meeting will last about an hour to an hour and a half.

If both parents can come to an agreement regarding the issues addressed in the meeting, a judge will receive the order and sign it. If an agreement can’t be reached, the process will move onto the second primary legal process: the court process.

  • Child support cases can end up in court for a number of reasons.

These are:

  • One of the parties involved is a minor
  • One of the parties notifies the Office of the Attorney General that they fear for their safety or their child’s safety and is a victim of domestic violence.
  • The parties didn’t agree to the terms during their Child Support Review Process or
  • The Office of the Attorney General finds the case warrants going to court

Do I Need a Lawyer to Apply For Child Support in Texas?

If you and the other parent are able to reach an agreement about child support, you do not necessarily need to hire a lawyer. When both parties are in full agreement regarding the terms, your case is uncontested and can often be navigated without the help of a legal professional.

On the other hand, though, you will most likely want to do one of the following if your case is contested:

Applying For Child Support in Texas: Final Thoughts

The process of applying for child support can feel pretty overwhelming. Afterall, the outcome will determine the type of financial support that will be going to your child for years to come. Luckily, the Office of the Attorney General in Texas makes it easy to apply for child support online while also allowing you to apply by mail if that’s preferable.

No matter what type of legal issue you’re dealing with in Texas, knowledge is power. The more you know about the laws surrounding the matter at hand and what to expect from the process, the better prepared you can be and the better outcome you can work toward.

Are you searching for more resources to help you navigate family law issues in Texas? Make sure you check out our Texas family laws blog!

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Written By:
Sophia Merton
Sophia received her BA from Vassar College. She is a researcher and writer that aims to help make the complexities of the legal system understandable to the layperson. Believing that people can be empowered by understanding their rights and responsibilities under the law, Sophia aims to offer accurate and well-researched information in straightforward and easy-to-digest legal articles.

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