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Family Code - CHAPTER 154

CHAPTER 154. CHILD SUPPORT

SUBCHAPTER A. COURTORDERED CHILD SUPPORT

154.001. Support of Child

     (a) The court may order either or both parents to support a child in the manner specified by the order:

     (1) until the child is 18 years of age or until graduation from high school, whichever occurs later;

     (2) until the child is emancipated through marriage, through removal of the disabilities of minority by court order, or by other operation of law;

     (3) until the death of the child; or

     (4) if the child is disabled as defined in this chapter, for an indefinite period.

     (b) The court may order either or both parents to make periodic payments for the support of a child in a proceeding in which the Department of Protective and Regulatory Services is named temporary managing conservator. In a proceeding in which the Department of Protective and Regulatory Services is named permanent managing conservator of a child whose parents' rights have not been terminated, the court shall order each parent that is financially able to make periodic payments for the support of the child.

     (c) In a Title IVD case, if neither parent has physical possession or conservatorship of the child, the court may render an order providing that a nonparent or agency having physical possession may receive, hold, or disburse child support payments for the benefit of the child.

Added by Acts 1995, 74th Leg., ch. 20, 1, eff. April 20, 1995. Amended by Acts 1995, 74th Leg., ch. 751, 39, eff. Sept. 1, 1995.

Amended by Acts 1999, 76th Leg., ch. 556, 8, eff. Sept. 1, 1999.

154.002. Child Support Through High School Graduation

     (a) If the child is fully enrolled in an accredited secondary school in a program leading toward a high school diploma or enrolled in courses for joint high school and junior college credit pursuant to Section 130.008, Education Code, the court may render an original support order or modify an existing order providing child support past the 18th birthday of the child.

     (b) The request for a support order through high school graduation may be filed before or after the child's 18th birthday.

     (c) The order for periodic support may provide that payments continue through the end of the month in which the child graduates.

Added by Acts 1995, 74th Leg., ch. 20, 1, eff. April 20, 1995.

Amended by Acts 1999, 76th Leg., ch. 506, 1, eff. Aug. 30, 1999.

154.003. Manner of Payment

     The court may order that child support be paid by:

     (1) periodic payments;

     (2) a lump-sum payment;

     (3) an annuity purchase;

     (4) the setting aside of property to be administered for the support of the child as specified in the order; or

     (5) any combination of periodic payments, lump-sum payments, annuity purchases, or setting aside of property.

Added by Acts 1995, 74th Leg., ch. 20, 1, eff. April 20, 1995.

154.004. Place of Payment

     (a) The court shall order the payment of child support to a local registry, the Title IVD agency, or the state disbursement unit, as provided by Chapter 234, as added by Chapter 911, Acts of the 75th Legislature, Regular Session, 1997.

     (b) In a Title IVD case, the court or the Title IVD agency shall order that income withheld for child support be paid:

     (1) to the Title IVD agency through a local registry, which shall forward the payment to the Title IVD agency;

     (2) to the Title IVD agency; or

     (3) to the state disbursement unit.

Added by Acts 1995, 74th Leg., ch. 20, 1, eff. April 20, 1995.

Amended by Acts 1999, 76th Leg., ch. 556, 9, eff. Sept. 1, 1999.

154.005. Payments of Support Obligation by Trust

     (a) The court may order the trustees of a spendthrift or other trust to make disbursements for the support of a child to the extent the trustees are required to make payments to a beneficiary who is required to make child support payments as provided by this chapter.

     (b) If disbursement of the assets of the trust is discretionary, the court may order child support payments from the income of the trust but not from the principal.

Added by Acts 1995, 74th Leg., ch. 20, 1, eff. April 20, 1995.

154.006. Termination of Duty of Support

     (a) Unless otherwise agreed in writing or expressly provided in the order or as provided by Subsection (b), the child support order terminates on the marriage of the child, removal of the child's disabilities for general purposes, or death of the child or a parent ordered to pay child support.

     (b) Unless a nonparent or agency has been appointed conservator of the child under Chapter 153, the order for current child support, and any provision relating to conservatorship, possession, or access terminates on the marriage or remarriage of the obligor and obligee to each other.

Added by Acts 1995, 74th Leg., ch. 20, 1, eff. April 20, 1995.

Amended by Acts 1999, 76th Leg., ch. 556, 9, eff. Sept. 1, 1999.

154.007. Order to Withhold Child Support From Income

     (a) In a proceeding in which periodic payments of child support are ordered, modified, or enforced, the court or Title IV-D agency shall order that income be withheld from the disposable earnings of the obligor as provided by Chapter 158.

     (b) If the court does not order income withholding, an order for support must contain a provision for income withholding to ensure that withholding may be effected if a delinquency occurs.

     (c) A child support order must be construed to contain a withholding provision even if the provision has been omitted from the written order.

     (d) If the order was rendered or last modified before January 1, 1987, the order is presumed to contain a provision for income withholding procedures to take effect in the event a delinquency occurs without further amendment to the order or future action by the court.

Added by Acts 1995, 74th Leg., ch. 20, 1, eff. April 20, 1995.

Amended by Acts 1997, 75th Leg., ch. 911, 10, eff. Sept. 1, 1997.

154.008. Provision for Health Insurance Coverage

     The court shall order health insurance coverage for the child as provided by Subchapters B and D.

Added by Acts 1995, 74th Leg., ch. 20, 1, eff. April 20, 1995.

154.009. Retroactive Child Support

     (a) The court may order a parent to pay retroactive child support if the parent:

     (1) has not previously been ordered to pay support for the child; and

     (2) was not a party to a suit in which support was ordered.

     (b) In ordering retroactive child support, the court shall apply the child support guidelines provided by this chapter.

     (c) Unless the Title IVD agency is a party to an agreement concerning support or purporting to settle past, present, or future support obligations by prepayment or otherwise, an agreement between the parties does not reduce or terminate retroactive support that the agency may request.

Added by Acts 1995, 74th Leg., ch. 20, 1, eff. April 20, 1995.

154.010. No Discrimination Based on Marital Status of Parents or Sex

     The amount of support ordered for the benefit of a child shall be determined without regard to:

     (1) the sex of the obligor, obligee, or child; or

     (2) the marital status of the parents of the child.

Added by Acts 1995, 74th Leg., ch. 20, 1, eff. April 20, 1995.

154.011. Support Not Conditioned on Possession or Access

     A court may not render an order that conditions the payment of child support on whether a managing conservator allows a possessory conservator to have possession of or access to a child.

Added by Acts 1995, 74th Leg., ch. 751, 40, eff. Sept. 1, 1995.

154.012. Support Paid After Termination of Support Order

     (a) If the obligor is not in arrears, an obligee shall return to an obligor a child support payment made by the obligor after the date the child support order has terminated.

     (b) An obligor may file a suit to recover a child support payment under Subsection (a). If the court finds that the obligee failed to return a child support payment under Subsection (a), the court shall order the obligee to pay to the obligor attorney's fees and all court costs in addition to the amount of support paid after the date the child support order terminated. For good cause shown, the court may waive the requirement that the obligee pay attorney's fees and costs if the court states the reasons supporting that finding.

Added by Acts 1999, 76th Leg., ch. 363, 1, eff. Sept. 1, 1999.

SUBCHAPTER B. COMPUTING NET RESOURCES AVAILABLE FOR PAYMENT OF CHILD SUPPORT

154.061. Computing Net Monthly Income

     (a) Whenever feasible, gross income should first be computed on an annual basis and then should be recalculated to determine average monthly gross income.

     (b) The Title IVD agency shall annually promulgate tax charts to compute net monthly income, subtracting from gross income social security taxes and federal income tax withholding for a single person claiming one personal exemption and the standard deduction.

Added by Acts 1995, 74th Leg., ch. 20, 1, eff. April 20, 1995.

154.062. Net Resources

     (a) The court shall calculate net resources for the purpose of determining child support liability as provided by this section.

     (b) Resources include:

     (1) 100 percent of all wage and salary income and other compensation for personal services (including commissions, overtime pay, tips, and bonuses);

     (2) interest, dividends, and royalty income;

     (3) self-employment income;

     (4) net rental income (defined as rent after deducting operating expenses and mortgage payments, but not including noncash items such as depreciation); and

     (5) all other income actually being received, including severance pay, retirement benefits, pensions, trust income, annuities, capital gains, social security benefits, unemployment benefits, disability and workers' compensation benefits, interest income from notes regardless of the source, gifts and prizes, spousal maintenance, and alimony.

     (c) Resources do not include:

     (1) return of principal or capital;

     (2) accounts receivable; or

     (3) benefits paid in accordance with aid for families with dependent children.

     (d) The court shall deduct the following items from resources to determine the net resources available for child support:

     (1) social security taxes;

     (2) federal income tax based on the tax rate for a single person claiming one personal exemption and the standard deduction;

     (3) state income tax;

     (4) union dues; and

     (5) expenses for health insurance coverage for the obligor's child.

Added by Acts 1995, 74th Leg., ch. 20, 1, eff. April 20, 1995. Amended by Acts 1995, 74th Leg., ch. 751, 41, eff. Sept. 1, 1995.

154.063. Party to Furnish Information

     The court shall require a party to:

     (1) furnish information sufficient to accurately identify that party's net resources and ability to pay child support; and

     (2) produce copies of income tax returns for the past two years, a financial statement, and current pay stubs.

Added by Acts 1995, 74th Leg., ch. 20, 1, eff. April 20, 1995.

154.064. Health Insurance for Child Presumptively Provided by Obligor

     The guidelines for support of a child are based on the assumption that the court will order the obligor to provide health insurance coverage for the child in addition to the amount of child support calculated in accordance with those guidelines.

Added by Acts 1995, 74th Leg., ch. 20, 1, eff. April 20, 1995.

154.065. Self-Employment Income

     (a) Income from self-employment, whether positive or negative, includes benefits allocated to an individual from a business or undertaking in the form of a proprietorship, partnership, joint venture, close corporation, agency, or independent contractor, less ordinary and necessary expenses required to produce that income.

     (b) In its discretion, the court may exclude from self-employment income amounts allowable under federal income tax law as depreciation, tax credits, or any other business expenses shown by the evidence to be inappropriate in making the determination of income available for the purpose of calculating child support.

Added by Acts 1995, 74th Leg., ch. 20, 1, eff. April 20, 1995.

154.066. Intentional Unemployment or Underemployment

     If the actual income of the obligor is significantly less than what the obligor could earn because of intentional unemployment or underemployment, the court may apply the support guidelines to the earning potential of the obligor.

Added by Acts 1995, 74th Leg., ch. 20, 1, eff. April 20, 1995.

154.067. Deemed Income

     (a) When appropriate, in order to determine the net resources available for child support, the court may assign a reasonable amount of deemed income attributable to assets that do not currently produce income. The court shall also consider whether certain property that is not producing income can be liquidated without an unreasonable financial sacrifice because of cyclical or other market conditions. If there is no effective market for the property, the carrying costs of such an investment, including property taxes and note payments, shall be offset against the income attributed to the property.

     (b) The court may assign a reasonable amount of deemed income to income-producing assets that a party has voluntarily transferred or on which earnings have intentionally been reduced.

Added by Acts 1995, 74th Leg., ch. 20, 1, eff. April 20, 1995.

154.068. Wage and Salary Presumption

     In the absence of evidence of the wage and salary income of a party, the court shall presume that the party has wages or salary equal to the federal minimum wage for a 40hour week.

Added by Acts 1995, 74th Leg., ch. 20, 1, eff. April 20, 1995.

154.069. Net Resources of Spouse

     (a) The court may not add any portion of the net resources of a spouse to the net resources of an obligor or obligee in order to calculate the amount of child support to be ordered.

     (b) The court may not subtract the needs of a spouse, or of a dependent of a spouse, from the net resources of the obligor or obligee.

Added by Acts 1995, 74th Leg., ch. 20, 1, eff. April 20, 1995.

154.070. Child Support Received by Obligor

     In a situation involving multiple households due child support, child support received by an obligor shall be added to the obligor's net resources to compute the net resources before determining the child support credit or applying the percentages in the multiple household table in this chapter.

Added by Acts 1995, 74th Leg., ch. 20, 1, eff. April 20, 1995.

SUBCHAPTER C. CHILD SUPPORT GUIDELINES

154.121. Guidelines for the Support of a Child

     The child support guidelines in this subchapter are intended to guide the court in determining an equitable amount of child support.

Added by Acts 1995, 74th Leg., ch. 20, 1, eff. April 20, 1995.

154.122. Application of Guidelines Rebuttably Presumed in Best Interest of Child

     (a) The amount of a periodic child support payment established by the child support guidelines in effect in this state at the time of the hearing is presumed to be reasonable, and an order of support conforming to the guidelines is presumed to be in the best interest of the child.

     (b) A court may determine that the application of the guidelines would be unjust or inappropriate under the circumstances.

Added by Acts 1995, 74th Leg., ch. 20, 1, eff. April 20, 1995.

154.123. Additional Factors for Court to Consider

     (a) The court may order periodic child support payments in an amount other than that established by the guidelines if the evidence rebuts the presumption that application of the guidelines is in the best interest of the child and justifies a variance from the guidelines.

     (b) In determining whether application of the guidelines would be unjust or inappropriate under the circumstances, the court shall consider evidence of all relevant factors, including:

     (1) the age and needs of the child;

     (2) the ability of the parents to contribute to the support of the child;

     (3) any financial resources available for the support of the child;

     (4) the amount of time of possession of and access to a child;

     (5) the amount of the obligee's net resources, including the earning potential of the obligee if the actual income of the obligee is significantly less than what the obligee could earn because the obligee is intentionally unemployed or underemployed and including an increase or decrease in the income of the obligee or income that may be attributed to the property and assets of the obligee;

     (6) child care expenses incurred by either party in order to maintain gainful employment;

     (7) whether either party has the managing conservatorship or actual physical custody of another child;

     (8) the amount of alimony or spousal maintenance actually and currently being paid or received by a party;

     (9) the expenses for a son or daughter for education beyond secondary school;

     (10) whether the obligor or obligee has an automobile, housing, or other benefits furnished by his or her employer, another person, or a business entity;

     (11) the amount of other deductions from the wage or salary income and from other compensation for personal services of the parties;

     (12) provision for health care insurance and payment of uninsured medical expenses;

     (13) special or extraordinary educational, health care, or other expenses of the parties or of the child;

     (14) the cost of travel in order to exercise possession of and access to a child;

     (15) positive or negative cash flow from any real and personal property and assets, including a business and investments;

     (16) debts or debt service assumed by either party; and

     (17) any other reason consistent with the best interest of the child, taking into consideration the circumstances of the parents.

Added by Acts 1995, 74th Leg., ch. 20, 1, eff. April 20, 1995.

154.124. Agreement Concerning Support

     (a) To promote the amicable settlement of disputes between the parties to a suit, the parties may enter into a written agreement containing provisions for support of the child and for modification of the agreement, including variations from the child support guidelines provided by Subchapter C.

     (b) If the court finds that the agreement is in the child's best interest, the court shall render an order in accordance with the agreement.

     (c) Terms of the agreement in the order may be enforced by all remedies available for enforcement of a judgment, including contempt, but are not enforceable as contract terms unless provided by the agreement.

     (d) If the court finds the agreement is not in the child's best interest, the court may request the parties to submit a revised agreement or the court may render an order for the support of the child.

Added by Acts 1995, 74th Leg., ch. 20, 1, eff. April 20, 1995.

154.125. Application of Guidelines to Net Resources of $6,000 or Less

     (a) The guidelines for the support of a child in this section are specifically designed to apply to situations in which the obligor's monthly net resources are $6,000 or less.

     (b) If the obligor's monthly net resources are $6,000 or less, the court shall presumptively apply the following schedule in rendering the child support order:

CHILD SUPPORT GUIDELINES

     

BASED ON THE MONTHLY NET RESOURCES OF THE OBLIGOR

           

     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     Not less than the amount for 5 children

Added by Acts 1995, 74th Leg., ch. 20, 1, eff. April 20, 1995.

154.126. Application of Guidelines to Net Resources of More Than $6,000 Monthly

     (a) If the obligor's net resources exceed $6,000 per month, the court shall presumptively apply the percentage guidelines to the first $6,000 of the obligor's net resources. Without further reference to the percentage recommended by these guidelines, the court may order additional amounts of child support as appropriate, depending on the income of the parties and the proven needs of the child.

     (b) The proper calculation of a child support order that exceeds the presumptive amount established for the first $6,000 of the obligor's net resources requires that the entire amount of the presumptive award be subtracted from the proven total needs of the child. After the presumptive award is subtracted, the court shall allocate between the parties the responsibility to meet the additional needs of the child according to the circumstances of the parties. However, in no event may the obligor be required to pay more child support than the greater of the presumptive amount or the amount equal to 100 percent of the proven needs of the child.

Added by Acts 1995, 74th Leg., ch. 20, 1, eff. April 20, 1995.

154.127. Partial Termination of Support Obligation

     A child support order for more than one child shall provide that, on the termination of support for a child, the level of support for the remaining child or children is in accordance with the child support guidelines.

Added by Acts 1995, 74th Leg., ch. 20, 1, eff. April 20, 1995.

154.128. Computing Support for Children in More Than One Household

     (a) In applying the child support guidelines for an obligor who has children in more than one household, the court shall apply the percentage guidelines in this subchapter by making the following computation:

     (1) determine the amount of child support that would be ordered if all children whom the obligor has the legal duty to support lived in one household by applying the schedule in this subchapter;

     (2) compute a child support credit for the obligor's children who are not before the court by dividing the amount determined under Subdivision (1) by the total number of children whom the obligor is obligated to support and multiplying that number by the number of the obligor's children who are not before the court;

     (3) determine the adjusted net resources of the obligor by subtracting the child support credit computed under Subdivision (2) from the net resources of the obligor; and

     (4) determine the child support amount for the children before the court by applying the percentage guidelines for one household for the number of children of the obligor before the court to the obligor's adjusted net resources.

(b) For the purpose of determining a child support credit, the total number of an obligor's children includes the children before the court for the establishment or modification of a support order and any other children, including children residing with the obligor, whom the obligor has the legal duty of support.

(c) The child support credit with respect to children for whom the obligor is obligated by an order to pay support is computed, regardless of whether the obligor is delinquent in child support payments, without regard to the amount of the order.

Added by Acts 1995, 74th Leg., ch. 20, 1, eff. April 20, 1995.

154.129. Alternative Method of Computing Support for Children in More Than One Household

In lieu of performing the computation under the preceding section, the court may determine the child support amount for the children before the court by applying the percentages in the table below to the obligor's net resources:

     MULTIPLE FAMILY ADJUSTED GUIDELINES

     (% OF NET RESOURCES)

     Number of children before the court

     1

     2

     3

     4

     5

     6

     7

Number of

other

children

for whom

the

obligor

has a

duty of

support

0

20.00

25.00

30.00

35.00

40.00

40.00

40.00

1

17.50

22.50

27.38

32.20

37.33

37.71

38.00

2

16.00

20.63

25.20

30.33

35.43

36.00

36.44

3

14.75

19.00

24.00

29.00

34.00

34.67

35.20

4

13.60

18.33

23.14

28.00

32.89

33.60

34.18

5

13.33

17.86

22.50

27.22

32.00

32.73

33.33

6

13.14

17.50

22.00

26.60

31.27

32.00

32.62

7

13.00

17.22

21.60

26.09

30.67

31.38

32.00

Added by Acts 1995, 74th Leg., ch. 20, 1, eff. April 20, 1995.

154.130. Findings in Child Support Order

(a) Without regard to Rules 296 through 299, Texas Rules of Civil Procedure, in rendering an order of child support, the court shall make the findings required by Subsection (b) if:

(1) a party files a written request with the court not later than 10 days after the date of the hearing;

(2) a party makes an oral request in open court during the hearing; or

(3) the amount of child support ordered by the court varies from the amount computed by applying the percentage guidelines.

(b) If findings are required by this section, the court shall state whether the application of the guidelines would be unjust or inappropriate and shall state the following in the child support order:

"(1) the monthly net resources of the obligor per month are $______;

"(2) the monthly net resources of the obligee per month are $______;

"(3) the percentage applied to the obligor's net resources for child support by the actual order rendered by the court is ______%;

"(4) the amount of child support if the percentage guidelines are applied to the first $6,000 of the obligor's net resources is $______;

"(5) if applicable, the specific reasons that the amount of child support per month ordered by the court varies from the amount stated in Subdivision (4) are: ______; and

"(6) if applicable, the obligor is obligated to support children in more than one household, and:

"(A) the number of children before the court is ______;

"(B) the number of children not before the court residing in the same household with the obligor is ______; and

"(C) the number of children not before the court for whom the obligor is obligated by a court order to pay support, without regard to whether the obligor is delinquent in child support payments, and who are not counted under Paragraph (A) or (B) is ______."

Added by Acts 1995, 74th Leg., ch. 20, 1, eff. April 20, 1995.

154.131. Application of Guidelines to Retroactive Support

(a) The child support guidelines are intended to guide the court in determining the amount of retroactive child support, if any, to be ordered.

(b) In ordering retroactive child support, the court shall consider the net resources of the obligor during the relevant time period and whether:

(1) the mother of the child had made any previous attempts to notify the biological father of his paternity or probable paternity;

(2) the biological father had knowledge of his paternity or probable paternity;

(3) the order of retroactive child support will impose an undue financial hardship on the obligor or the obligor's family; and

(4) the obligor has provided actual support or other necessaries before the filing of the action.

Added by Acts 1995, 74th Leg., ch. 20, 1, eff. April 20, 1995.

154.132. Application of Guidelines to Children of Certain Disabled Obligors

In applying the child support guidelines for an obligor who has a disability and who is required to pay support for a child who receives benefits as a result of the obligor's disability, the court shall apply the guidelines by determining the amount of child support that would be ordered under the child support guidelines and subtracting from that total the amount of benefits or the value of the benefits paid to or for the child as a result of the obligor's disability.

Added by Acts 1999, 76th Leg., ch. 891, 1, eff. Sept. 1, 1999.

SUBCHAPTER D. MEDICAL SUPPORT FOR CHILD

154.181. Medical Support Order

In a suit affecting the parent-child relationship or in a proceeding under Chapter 159, the court shall render an order for the medical support of the child.

Added by Acts 1995, 74th Leg., ch. 20, 1, eff. April 20, 1995.

154.182. Health Insurance

(a) The court shall consider the cost and quality of health insurance coverage available to the parties and shall give priority to health insurance coverage available through the employment of one of the parties.

(b) Except as provided for by Subdivision (6), in determining the manner in which health insurance for the child is to be ordered, the court shall render its order in accordance with the following priorities, unless a party shows good cause why a particular order would not be in the best interest of the child:

(1) if health insurance is available for the child through the obligor's employment or membership in a union, trade association, or other organization, the court shall order the obligor to include the child in the obligor's health insurance;

(2) if health insurance is not available for the child through the obligor's employment but is available for the child through the obligee's employment or membership in a union, trade association, or other organization, the court may order the obligee to provide health insurance for the child, and, in such event, shall order the obligor to pay additional child support to be withheld from earnings under Chapter 158 to the obligee for the actual cost of the health insurance for the child;

(3) if health insurance is not available for the child under Subdivision (1) or (2), the court shall order the obligor to provide health insurance for the child if the court finds that health insurance is available for the child from another source and that the obligor is financially able to provide it;

(4) if health insurance is not available for the child under Subdivision (1), (2), or (3), the court shall order the obligor to apply for coverage through the Texas Healthy Kids Corporation established under Chapter 109, Health and Safety Code;

(5) if health coverage is not available for the child under Subdivision (1), (2), (3), or (4), the court shall order the obligor to pay the obligee, in addition to any amount ordered under the guidelines for child support, a reasonable amount each month as medical support for the child to be withheld from earnings under Chapter 158; or

(6) notwithstanding Subdivisions (1) through (3), an obligor whose employer, union, trade association, or other organization does not offer a child/children coverage option in lieu of a spouse/child/children option of health insurance coverage may elect to apply for coverage through the Texas Healthy Kids Corporation. An obligor required to pay additional child support to an obligee for health insurance coverage may elect to apply for coverage through the Texas Healthy Kids Corporation if the obligee's employer, union, trade association, or other organization does not offer a child/children coverage option in lieu of a spouse/child/children option of health insurance coverage.

(c) In establishing the amount of additional medical child support under Subsection (b)(5), the court shall presume that $38 each month is a reasonable amount for a child but may order a greater or lesser amount as appropriate under the circumstances. The Health and Human Services Commission may promulgate guidelines for the dollar amounts of medical child support that the court may presumptively apply in circumstances in which the obligor is responsible for medical child support for more than one child.

Added by Acts 1995, 74th Leg., ch. 20, 1, eff. April 20, 1995.

Amended by Acts 1997, 75th Leg., ch. 550, 2, eff. June 2, 1997.

154.183. Health Insurance Additional Support Duty of Obligor

(a) An amount that an obligor is required to pay for health insurance for the child:

(1) is in addition to the amount that the obligor is required to pay for child support under the guidelines for child support;

(2) is a child support obligation; and

(3) may be enforced as a child support obligation.

(b) If the court finds and states in the child support order that the obligee will maintain health insurance coverage for the child at the obligee's expense, the court may increase the amount of child support to be paid by the obligor in an amount not exceeding the total expense to the obligee for maintaining health insurance coverage.

(c) As additional child support, the court shall allocate between the parties, according to their circumstances, the reasonable and necessary health care expenses of a child that are not reimbursed by health insurance.

Added by Acts 1995, 74th Leg., ch. 20, 1, eff. April 20, 1995.

154.184. Effect of Order

(a) Receipt of a medical support order requiring that health insurance be provided for a child shall be considered a change in the family circumstances of the employee or member, for health insurance purposes, equivalent to the birth or adoption of a child.

(b) If the employee or member is eligible for dependent health coverage, the employer shall automatically enroll the child for the first 31 days after the receipt of the order or notice of the medical support order under Section 154.186 on the same terms and conditions as apply to any other dependent child.

(c) The employer shall notify the insurer of the automatic enrollment.

(d) During the 31day period, the employer and insurer shall complete all necessary forms and procedures to make the enrollment permanent or shall report in accordance with this subchapter the reasons the coverage cannot be made permanent.

Added by Acts 1995, 74th Leg., ch. 20, 1, eff. April 20, 1995. Amended by Acts 1995, 74th Leg., ch. 341, 4.03, eff. Sept. 1, 1995.

Amended by Acts 1997, 75th Leg., ch. 911, 11, eff. Sept. 1, 1997.

154.185. Parent to Furnish Information

(a) The court shall order a parent providing health insurance to furnish to either the obligee, obligor, local domestic relations office, or Title IVD agency the following information not later than the 30th day after the date the notice of rendition of the order is received:

(1) the social security number of the parent;

(2) the name and address of the parent's employer;

(3) whether the employer is self-insured or has health insurance available;

(4) proof that health insurance has been provided for the child;

(5) if the employer has health insurance available, the name of the health insurance carrier, the number of the policy, a copy of the policy and schedule of benefits, a health insurance membership card, claim forms, and any other information necessary to submit a claim; and

(6) if the employer is self-insured, a copy of the schedule of benefits, a membership card, claim forms, and any other information necessary to submit a claim.

(b) The court shall also order a parent providing health insurance to furnish the obligor, obligee, local domestic relations office, or Title IVD agency with additional information regarding health insurance coverage not later than the 15th day after the date the information is received by the parent.

Added by Acts 1995, 74th Leg., ch. 20, 1, eff. April 20, 1995.

154.186. Notice to Employer Concerning Medical Support

The obligee, obligor, or a child support agency may send to the employer a copy of the order requiring an employee to provide health insurance coverage for a child or may include notice of the medical support order in an order or writ of withholding sent to the employer in accordance with Chapter 158.

Added by Acts 1995, 74th Leg., ch. 20, 1, eff. April 20, 1995. Amended by Acts 1995, 74th Leg., ch. 341, 4.04, eff. Sept. 1, 1995.

Amended by Acts 1997, 75th Leg., ch. 911, 12, eff. Sept. 1, 1997.

154.187. Duties of Employer

(a) An order or notice under this subchapter to an employer directing that health insurance coverage be provided to a child of an employee or member is binding on a current or subsequent employer on receipt without regard to the date the order was rendered. If the employee or member is eligible for dependent health coverage for the child, the employer shall immediately enroll the child in a health insurance plan regardless of whether the employee is enrolled in the plan. If dependent coverage is not available to the employee or member through the employer's health insurance plan or enrollment cannot be made permanent or if the employer is not responsible or otherwise liable for providing such coverage, the employer shall provide notice to the sender in accordance with Subsection (c).

(b) If additional premiums are incurred as a result of adding the child to the health insurance plan, the employer shall deduct the health insurance premium from the earnings of the employee in accordance with Chapter 158 and apply the amount withheld to payment of the insurance premium.

(c) An employer who has received an order or notice under this subchapter shall provide to the sender, by first class mail not later than the 30th day after the date the employer receives the order or notice, a statement that the child:

(1) has been enrolled in a health insurance plan; or

(2) cannot be enrolled or cannot be enrolled permanently in a health insurance plan and provide the reason why coverage or permanent coverage cannot be provided.

(d) If the employee ceases employment or if the health insurance coverage lapses, the employer shall provide to the sender, by first class mail not later than the 15th day after the date of the termination of employment or the lapse of the coverage, notice of the termination or lapse and of the availability of any conversion privileges.

(e) On request, the employer shall release to the sender information concerning the available health insurance coverage, including the name of the health insurance carrier, the policy number, a copy of the policy and schedule of benefits, a health insurance membership card, and claim forms.

(f) In this section, "sender" means the person sending the order under Section 154.186.

(g) An employer who fails to enroll a child, fails to withhold or remit premiums or cash medical support, or discriminates in hiring or employment on the basis of a medical support order shall be subject to the penalties and fines in Subchapter C, Chapter 158.

Added by Acts 1995, 74th Leg., ch. 20, 1, eff. April 20, 1995. Amended by Acts 1995, 74th Leg., ch. 341, 4.05, eff. Sept. 1, 1995.

Amended by Acts 1997, 75th Leg., ch. 911, 13, eff. Sept. 1, 1997.

154.188. Failure to Provide Required Health Insurance

A parent ordered to provide health insurance who fails to do so is liable for necessary medical expenses of the child, without regard to whether the expenses would have been paid if health insurance had been provided.

Added by Acts 1995, 74th Leg., ch. 20, 1, eff. April 20, 1995.

154.189. Notice of Termination or Lapse of Insurance Coverage

(a) An obligor ordered to provide health insurance coverage for a child must notify the obligee and any child support agency enforcing a support obligation against the obligor of the:

(1) termination or lapse of health insurance coverage for the child not later than the 15th day after the date of a termination or lapse; and

(2) availability of additional health insurance to the obligor for the child after a termination or lapse of coverage not later than the 15th day after the date the insurance becomes available.

(b) If termination of coverage results from a change of employers, the obligor, the obligee, or the child support agency may send the new employer a copy of the order requiring the employee to provide health insurance for a child or notice of the medical support order as provided by this subchapter.

Added by Acts 1995, 74th Leg., ch. 20, 1, eff. April 20, 1995.

Amended by Acts 1997, 75th Leg., ch. 911, 14, eff. Sept. 1, 1997.

154.190. Reenrolling Child for Insurance Coverage

After health insurance has been terminated or has lapsed, an obligor ordered to provide health insurance coverage for the child must enroll the child in a health insurance plan at the next available enrollment period.

Added by Acts 1995, 74th Leg., ch. 20, 1, eff. April 20, 1995.

154.191. Remedy Not Exclusive

(a) This subchapter does not limit the rights of the obligor, obligee, local domestic relations office, or Title IVD agency to enforce, modify, or clarify the medical support order.

(b) This subchapter does not limit the authority of the court to render or modify a medical support order containing a provision for payment of uninsured health expenses, health care costs, or health insurance premiums that are in addition to and inconsistent with this subchapter.

Added by Acts 1995, 74th Leg., ch. 20, 1, eff. April 20, 1995.

154.192. Cancellation or Elimination of Insurance Coverage for Child

(a) Unless the employee or member ceases to be eligible for dependent coverage, or the employer has eliminated dependent health coverage for all of the employer's employees or members, the employer may not cancel or eliminate coverage of a child enrolled under this subchapter until the employer is provided satisfactory written evidence that:

(1) the court order or administrative order requiring the coverage is no longer in effect; or

(2) the child is enrolled in comparable health insurance coverage or will be enrolled in comparable coverage that will take effect not later than the effective date of the cancellation or elimination of the employer's coverage.

Added by Acts 1995, 74th Leg., ch. 20, 1, eff. April 20, 1995. Amended by Acts 1995, 74th Leg., ch. 341, 4.06, eff. Sept. 1, 1995.

154.193. Medical Support Order Not Qualified

(a) If a plan administrator or other person acting in an equivalent position determines that a medical support order issued under this subchapter does not qualify for enforcement under federal law, the tribunal may, on its own motion or the motion of a party, render an order that qualifies for enforcement under federal law.

(b) The procedure for filing a motion for enforcement of a final order applies to a motion under this section. Service of citation is not required, and a person is not entitled to a jury in a proceeding under this section.

(c) The employer or plan administrator is not a necessary party to a proceeding under this section.

Added by Acts 1997, 75th Leg., ch. 911, 15, eff. Sept. 1, 1997.

SUBCHAPTER E. LOCAL CHILD SUPPORT REGISTRY

154.241. Local Registry

(a) A local registry shall receive a court-ordered child support payment or a payment otherwise authorized by law and shall forward the payment, as appropriate, to the Title IVD agency, local domestic relations office, or obligee within two working days after the date the local registry receives the payment.

(b) A local registry may not require an obligor, obligee, or other party or entity to furnish a certified copy of a court order as a condition of processing child support payments and shall accept as sufficient authority to process the payments a photocopy, facsimile copy, or conformed copy of the court's order.

(c) A local registry shall include with each payment it forwards to the Title IVD agency the date it received the payment and the withholding date furnished by the employer.

(d) A local registry shall accept child support payments made by personal check, money order, or cashier's check. A local registry may refuse payment by personal check if a pattern of abuse regarding the use of personal checks has been established. Abuse includes checks drawn on insufficient funds, abusive or offensive language written on the check, intentional mutilation of the instrument, or other actions that delay or disrupt the registry's operation.

(e) Subject to Section 154.004, at the request of an obligee, a local registry shall redirect and forward a child support payment to an address and in care of a person or entity designated by the obligee. A local registry may require that the obligee's request be in writing or be made on a form provided by the local registry for that purpose, but may not charge a fee for receiving the request or redirecting the payments as requested.

Added by Acts 1995, 74th Leg., ch. 20, 1, eff. April 20, 1995. Amended by Acts 1995, 74th Leg., ch. 751, 42, eff. Sept. 1, 1995.

154.242. Payment or Transfer of Child Support Payments by Electronic Funds Transfer

(a) A child support payment may be made by electronic funds transfer to:

(1) the Title IVD agency;

(2) a local registry if the registry agrees to accept electronic payment; or

(3) the state disbursement unit.

(b) A local registry may transmit child support payments to the Title IVD agency by electronic funds transfer. Unless support payments are required to be made to the state disbursement unit, an obligor may make payments, with the approval of the court entering the order, directly to the bank account of the obligee by electronic transfer and provide verification of the deposit to the local registry. A local registry in a county that makes deposits into personal bank accounts by electronic funds transfer as of April 1, 1995, may transmit a child support payment to an obligee by electronic funds transfer if the obligee maintains a bank account and provides the local registry with the necessary bank account information to complete electronic payment.

Added by Acts 1995, 74th Leg., ch. 20, 1, eff. April 20, 1995. Amended by Acts 1995, 74th Leg., ch. 597, 1, eff. Jan. 1, 1996.

Amended by Acts 1997, 75th Leg., ch. 702, 2, eff. Jan. 1, 1998; Acts 1997, 75th Leg., ch. 1053, 2, eff. Sept. 1, 1997; Acts 1999, 76th Leg., ch. 556, 10, eff. Sept. 1, 1999.

154.243. Production of Child Support Payment Record

The Title IVD agency, a local registry, or the state disbursement unit may comply with a subpoena or other order directing the production of a child support payment record by sending a certified copy of the record or an affidavit regarding the payment record to the court that directed production of the record.

Added by Acts 1995, 74th Leg., ch. 20, 1, eff. April 20, 1995.

Amended by Acts 1999, 76th Leg., ch. 556, 10, eff. Sept. 1, 1999.

SUBCHAPTER F. SUPPORT FOR A MINOR OR ADULT DISABLED CHILD

154.301. Definitions

In this subchapter:

(1) "Adult child" means a child 18 years of age or older.

(2) "Child" means a son or daughter of any age.

Added by Acts 1995, 74th Leg., ch. 20, 1, eff. April 20, 1995.

154.302. Court-Ordered Support for Disabled Child

(a) The court may order either or both parents to provide for the support of a child for an indefinite period and may determine the rights and duties of the parents if the court finds that:

(1) the child, whether institutionalized or not, requires substantial care and personal supervision because of a mental or physical disability and will not be capable of self-support; and

(2) the disability exists, or the cause of the disability is known to exist, on or before the 18th birthday of the child.

(b) A court that orders support under this section shall designate a parent of the child or another person having physical custody or guardianship of the child under a court order to receive the support for the child. The court may designate a child who is 18 years of age or older to receive the support directly.

Added by Acts 1995, 74th Leg., ch. 20, 1, eff. April 20, 1995.

Amended by Acts 1997, 75th Leg., ch. 1173, 1, eff. Sept. 1, 1997.

154.303. Standing to Sue

(a) A suit provided by this subchapter may be filed only by:

(1) a parent of the child or another person having physical custody or guardianship of the child under a court order; or

(2) the child if the child:

(A) is 18 years of age or older;

(B) does not have a mental disability; and

(C) is determined by the court to be capable of managing the child's financial affairs.

(b) The parent, the child, if the child is 18 years of age or older, or other person may not transfer or assign the cause of action to any person, including a governmental or private entity or agency, except for an assignment made to the Title IV-D agency.

Added by Acts 1995, 74th Leg., ch. 20, 1, eff. April 20, 1995.

Amended by Acts 1997, 75th Leg., ch. 1173, 2, eff. Sept. 1, 1997.

154.304. General Procedure

Except as otherwise provided by this subchapter, the substantive and procedural rights and remedies in a suit affecting the parent-child relationship relating to the establishment, modification, or enforcement of a child support order apply to a suit filed and an order rendered under this subchapter.

Added by Acts 1995, 74th Leg., ch. 20, 1, eff. April 20, 1995.

154.305. Specific Procedures

(a) A suit under this subchapter may be filed:

(1) regardless of the age of the child; and

(2) as an independent cause of action or joined with any other claim or remedy provided by this code.

(b) If no court has continuing, exclusive jurisdiction of the child, an action under this subchapter may be filed as an original suit affecting the parent-child relationship.

(c) If there is a court of continuing, exclusive jurisdiction, an action under this subchapter may be filed as a suit for modification as provided by Chapter 156.

Added by Acts 1995, 74th Leg., ch. 20, 1, eff. April 20, 1995.

154.306. Amount of Support After Age 18

In determining the amount of support to be paid after a child's 18th birthday, the specific terms and conditions of that support, and the rights and duties of both parents with respect to the support of the child, the court shall determine and give special consideration to:

(1) any existing or future needs of the adult child directly related to the adult child's mental or physical disability and the substantial care and personal supervision directly required by or related to that disability;

(2) whether the parent pays for or will pay for the care or supervision of the adult child or provides or will provide substantial care or personal supervision of the adult child;

(3) the financial resources available to both parents for the support, care, and supervision of the adult child; and

(4) any other financial resources or other resources or programs available for the support, care, and supervision of the adult child.

Added by Acts 1995, 74th Leg., ch. 20, 1, eff. April 20, 1995.

154.307. Modification and Enforcement

An order provided by this subchapter may contain provisions governing the rights and duties of both parents with respect to the support of the child and may be modified or enforced in the same manner as any other order provided by this title.

Added by Acts 1995, 74th Leg., ch. 20, 1, eff. April 20, 1995.

154.308. Remedy Not Exclusive

(a) This subchapter does not affect a parent's:

(1) cause of action for the support of a disabled child under any other law; or

(2) ability to contract for the support of a disabled child.

(b) This subchapter does not affect the substantive or procedural rights or remedies of a person other than a parent, including a governmental or private entity or agency, with respect to the support of a disabled child under any other law.

Added by Acts 1995, 74th Leg., ch. 20, 1, eff. April 20, 1995.

154.309. Possession of or Access to Adult Disabled Child

(a) A court may render an order for the possession of or access to an adult disabled child that is appropriate under the circumstances.

(b) Possession of or access to an adult disabled child is enforceable in the manner provided by Chapter 157. An adult disabled child may refuse possession or access if the adult disabled child is mentally competent.

(c) A court that obtains continuing, exclusive jurisdiction of a suit affecting the parent-child relationship involving a disabled person who is a child retains continuing, exclusive jurisdiction of subsequent proceedings involving the person, including proceedings after the person is an adult.

Added by Acts 1995, 74th Leg., ch. 751, 43, eff. Sept. 1, 1995.

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