How Does Texas Family Code 154.001 Affect Child Support?

Texas laws pertaining to marriage, divorce, property rights, alimony, child support, and related matters are governed by the Texas Family Code.  This article for parents who are divorced or in the process of getting divorced will serve as a brief guide to how your child support rights and obligations are affected by Texas Family Code § 154.001, which deals with when and why child support payments may be ordered by the state’s family courts.  However, you should consult with the family law lawyers of Queenan Law if you have any questions about the Texas divorce process.

If you live in or near Houston, Dallas, Arlington, or Fort Worth and need legal assistance resolving a child support dispute or other aspects of your divorce or separation, please do not hesitate to contact the Dallas family law attorneys of Queenan Law for a free and confidential consultation.  We have more than 20 years of experience helping mothers and fathers with child support modifications, enforcement, and termination.  To arrange your free legal consultation, call our law offices at (817) 476-1797.

How Long Can You Be Ordered to Pay Child Support Under Texas Family Code 154.001?

Texas Family Code § 154.001 is a statute that outlines the length of time for which a mother or father can be ordered to make child support payments under Texas law.  In accordance with this statute, “The court may order either or both parents to support a child in the manner specified by the [child support] order” until one of the following occurs:

  1. The child either turns 18 years old, at which point he or she becomes a legal adult, or graduates from high school – whichever occurs later.
  2. The child passes away.
  3. The child is emancipated in one of three ways:
  4. He or she gets married.
  5. He or she obtains a court order for the “removal of the disabilities of minority,” which means the child will be treated like an adult for legal purposes.
  6. He or she is emancipated by any other means (“by other operation of law”).

For reference, emancipation is the process of giving a minor the rights of an adult.  In order to become emancipated in Texas, a teenager must meet three requirements:

  • He or she must be a resident of Texas.
  • He or she must be at least 16 years old.
  • He or she must be self-sufficient.

Additionally, the statute contains a very important provision specific to children with disabilities.  Under Texas Family Code § 154.001(a)(4), the courts are permitted to order ongoing support payments “for an indefinite period” if the child is disabled.  That means the payor may be required to continue making payments after a disabled child turns 18 and becomes a legal adult.

Do You Have to Make Child Support Payments if Your Parental Rights Have Been Terminated?

Generally speaking, non-custodial parents preserve the right to visitation, which guarantees a minimum amount of time with their children.  However, there are also situations where one parent can try to eliminate the non-custodial parent’s visitation rights by proving that the non-custodial mother or father is an “unfit parent.”  Under a separate statute of the Texas Family Code, Texas Family Code § 161.001, the court may terminate an individual’s parental rights if, for example, he or she has “knowingly placed or knowingly allowed the child to remain in conditions or surroundings which endanger the physical or emotional well-being of the child,” among other reasons.

A father or mother whose parental rights have been terminated is still required to make child custody payments.  Under Texas Family Code § 154.001(a-1), “The court may order each person who is financially able and whose parental rights have been terminated… to support the child in the manner specified by the [child support] order” until either the child is adopted, or one of the situations outlined in the previous section arises – for example, the child turns 18 or graduates from high school.

Contact a Dallas Child Support Attorney for Legal Help Resolving a Child Support Dispute

Child support disputes can complicate even the most amicable of divorce proceedings.  These disputes are often emotionally charged and highly stressful for all of the parties involved, which can make it challenging for parents to present their cases clearly and effectively.  If you are having trouble getting your former spouse to meet their child support obligations, or if there are other disputes related to support payments, it is in your best interests to be represented by an aggressive yet supportive attorney who is highly experienced in the area of family law.

If you have any legal questions about a child support dispute in Texas, your obligations as a payor, your rights as a payee, or any other matters related to divorce and parental rights, please do not hesitate to contact Queenan Law for a free and confidential legal consultation.  We handle family law cases in Dallas, Houston, Fort Worth, and Arlington.  To learn more about how we may be able to assist your family, call our law offices at (817) 476-1797 to set up a free consultation.