Child support back-pay owed in Texas. What are my options?

Child support back-pay owed in Texas. What are my options?

Child support is critical to the support and well-being of a child. Most parents want to pay child support, but often a job loss or severe health condition has made it impossible for them to make child support payments.

Recently on our divorce forum a user asked, “I love my child very much and have wanted to pay child support. Unfortunately, I was involved in an accident and have been unable to work for several years. I have recently gotten a job, however, and I would like to make sure I pay all back support payments I owe. What steps can I take to pay my child support?”

Texas Child Support Laws

Texas child support laws are simple and easy to understand. If you are the non-custodial parent of a child in Texas you will be required to pay child support until a child is 18 years of age or until they graduate from high school (whichever is later). Other factors can also emancipate your child and eliminate your obligation to pay support.

It’s important to note that child support obligations in arrears do not go away and must be paid, even if your child has been emancipated. There are, however, laws which determine how long the court retain jurisdiction. Specifically, according to Texas state laws, the court retains jurisdiction to collect arrearages “for ten years after the child becomes an adult, or the date the child support obligation terminates.” Texas Family Code §157.005 (b)

With this in mind, if you owe child support it is best to contact the State Disbursement Unit of the Office of the Attorney General to ensure that all back payments are made.

If you fail to pay child support back-pay the state has the right to enforce a child support order by

  • Seizing the non-custodial parent’s liquid or cash resources, including bank accounts.
  • Intercepting tax refunds.
  • Getting a judgment and placing a lien against the non-custodial parent’s real or personal property.
  • Garnishing wages by getting a withholding order for both current and past due support.

Note: According to the Office of the Attorney General, “Arrears are payable at the rate of 20 percent more than your regular child support payment, or a percentage that will pay off your arrears within two years, whichever amount is less.”

How do I make support payments?

Child support payments can be withheld from your pay check and sent to the State Disbursement Unit. If you are not employed or you have child support in arrears you need to pay, you can send payments to the State Disbursement Unit (include the case number).

State Disbursement Unit (SDU)
PO Box 659791
San Antonio, TX 78265-9761

Payments can also be made online at Pay online at or

Bottom Line:

Child support payment is critical to the well-being of children. Payment is a moral and legal obligation. If you have the ability to make child support payments in arrears you need to contact the Office of the Attorney General and set up a payment plan.

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