Custody and Support of the Child in Texas

Updated: Jul 25

Joint or sole managing conservatorship (better known as custody) is decided according to what is in the best interests of the child. The genders of the parents are not a factor for consideration in making these decisions. The wishes of the child may be considered when applicable. The factors to be considered when deviating from standard custody and visitation arrangements are as follows:

  • The age, circumstances, needs, and best interests of the child;

  • The circumstances of the parents;

  • Evidence of any spouse or child abuse; and

  • Any other relevant factor.

Some of the factors specified in the statute that must be considered in decisions regard­ing joint custody are:

  • Physical, emotional, and psychological needs of the child;

  • The ability of the parents to give priority to the overall welfare of the children and reach decisions in their best interests;

  • Whether both parents can encourage and accept positive relationships between the child and the other parent;

  • Whether both parents actively participated in child care before the filing of the suit;

  • The geographical proximity of the parents’ homes;

  • If the child is 12 years old or older and sufficiently mature, the preference of the child; and

  • Any other relevant factor.

The court will not usually award joint managing conservatorship if there is credible evidence of spousal or child abuse or neglect. Parents can file a written agreement with the court discussing joint managing conservatorship. The court awards joint managing conservatorship based on such an agreement between parents if the agreement:

  • Establishes the residence of the child;

  • States' rights and duties of both parents regarding the child’s current and future care, support, and education;

  • Includes provisions minimizing disruption of the child’s daily routine, school, and ability to associate with friends;

  • Was agreed to voluntarily and knowingly; and

  • Is in the best interests of the child.

Additionally, there are standard terms regarding a court order in a child’s conservatorship set out in the statute, which is presumed to be the bare minimum allowed time that the parent not awarded the primary physical custody of the child is to have the child. [Texas Codes Annotated; Family Code, Chapter 153, Sections 153.004 to 153.434]


Rules for child support in Texas


The state of Texas standard child support guidelines apply in almost all cases. Both spouses’ income and many of the child-related expenses are considered when calculating child support obligations.


In Texas, child support obligations will continue until the child reaches eighteen and may extend through the completion of secondary school. Child support is usually paid by wage assignment.


Either parent may be required to make periodic or lump-sum child support payments. Official child support guidelines are set out in the statute, and these will be presumed to be reasonable and in the child’s best interests. The factors for consideration include:

  • The age and needs of the child;

  • The amount of possession and access to the child;

  • The ability of the parents to contribute to the support of the child;

  • Any financial resources available for the support of the child;

  • The net resources of the parent to pay support, including the earning potential of the parent to pay support if the actual income of that parent is significantly less than what that parent could earn, if intentionally unemployed or underemployed;

  • Any childcare expenses necessary for the employment of either parent;

  • Whether a parent has custody of another child and any child support expenses being paid or received for the care of another child;

  • The amount of alimony being currently paid or received;

  • Any wage or salary deductions of the parents;

  • Any educational or health care needs of the child, including college expenses;

  • Any benefits a par­ent receives from an employer;

  • Any debts or obligations of a parent;

  • Any special or extraordinary educational, health care, or other expenses of the parents or the child;

  • The cost of traveling to visit the child;

  • Any provisions for health care or insurance;

  • Any positive or negative cash flow from any assets, including a business or investments;

  • Whether either parent has a car or housing furnished by an employer or other person or business; and

  • Any other relevant factor.

The court can order health insurance coverage to be provided for the children. Additionally, the court can order income withholding to secure the payment of any child support owed. [Texas Codes Annotated; Family Code, Chapter 154, Sections 154.001 to 154.309]


Texas Attorney General's office provides a Monthly Child Support Calculator to estimate monthly child support payments.



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