Are you paying child support in Austin, Texas? A court might order you to do so after divorcing your spouse.
If you’ve overpaid child support in Texas, you may have questions about reimbursement.
Whether you get a refund depends on the circumstances. In some instances, it’s necessary to go to court to seek reimbursement.
Important Information About Child Support in Texas
Per the Texas Family Code, courts in Texas may order parents to pay child support. A court order will specify how a parent should make child support payments. Payments will typically continue until one of the following occurs:
- A child graduates high school or turns 18 (whichever happens later)
- A child is legally emancipated
- A child dies
A parent may pay support indefinitely in some circumstances. This may be the case if a child has a disability.
Who Receives Child Support Payments in Texas?
Sometimes, spouses may agree on the terms of child support when working towards a divorce agreement. A court will have to make child support decisions for them if they can’t agree on this issue.
Various factors can influence who must make child support payments. Technically, the law allows the court to order both parents to pay support. However, it’s common for only one parent to pay.
For example, the noncustodial parent may make child support payments. Such arrangements are common because a custodial parent may need financial support to provide for a child’s needs.
Someone paying child support in Texas doesn’t make payments directly to their child or the other parent. In Travis County, child support payments go to the Texas State Disbursement Unit (SDU). The SDU transfers payments to the recipient.
Overpayment of Child Support in Texas: Relevant Statutes
Texas Family Law Code sections 154.014 and 154.012 address overpaid child support. The law that applies in your case will depend on your current child support obligation. Sec. 154.014 may be the applicable law if you’re still making payments. Sec. 154.012 applies to overpayment of child support after a child support obligation has ended.
Sec. 154.014. PAYMENTS IN EXCESS OF COURT-ORDERED AMOUNT
This law defines how an agency receiving child support payments may respond when they receive an overpayment of child support.
If the obligor (the person paying child support) expresses their wishes for how the agency should apply the overpayment, the agency must attempt to honor these wishes to the best of its ability.
Some obligors don’t express their wishes for how to apply overpayments. In these circumstances, an agency will:
- Credit the overpayment to future payments, and
- Disburse the overpayment to the obligee (the one receiving child support) immediately.
There are exceptions to this law. The law doesn’t apply when an obligee receives public assistance.
Sec. 154.012. SUPPORT PAID IN EXCESS OF SUPPORT ORDER
This law addresses how to handle overpayments after a child support obligation ends. It requires an obligee to return excess child support payments to the obligor.
This requirement applies when the obligor no longer has a support obligation. It doesn’t matter if they made the payment before or after their obligation ended. If their obligation is over and they overpaid, the obligee should return the overpayment.
Can You Sue for Overpayment of Child Support in Texas?
Yes. Under Sec. 154.012 of the Texas Family Code, an obligor may file a lawsuit when they don’t receive a child support refund from the obligee. Seeking reimbursement for overpaid child support in this manner may involve legal fees.
The court accounts for this when issuing orders. If the court finds the obligee failed to provide reimbursement for overpaid child support, it will require them to repay the excess. The court can also order the obligee to cover the cost of the obligor’s legal fees. However, the court may waive this requirement if there is good cause for doing so.
What You Need to Know About Child Support Modification in Texas
A court will account for a parent’s income when deciding how much child support they should pay. However, a person’s income can change. A change in income may provide a reason to request a child support modification.
According to the Texas Attorney General’s Office, a child support modification may be an option in the following circumstances:
- Three years have passed since establishing or last modifying the current child support order. In addition, the current child support payment must differ from the amount that child support guidelines in Texas would require a parent to pay. It must differ from this amount by either 20 percent or $100.
- A parent has experienced a significant change in life circumstances since the establishment of the current child support order.
A change in income is one change in circumstances that may justify a child support modification. Other potential changes in circumstances include:
- The noncustodial parent becoming legally responsible for more kids
- Changes to a child’s medical insurance coverage
- Changes to a child’s living arrangements
The obligor doesn’t have to be the one requesting a child support modification. For example, perhaps the noncustodial parent is the one paying child support. The custodial parent may learn the noncustodial parent’s income has recently increased.
The custodial parent may know the noncustodial parent’s child support payments should increase accordingly. They can petition the court for a modification in these circumstances.
Contact an Austin, Texas, Child Support Attorney
Do you believe you deserve reimbursement for overpaid child support? Do you believe an obligee is refusing to pay what they owe?
Speak with an Austin, TX, family law attorney from Smith Family Law for more information. We can review your case and explain your legal options. If you have a right to file a suit seeking reimbursement for overpaid support, our team of attorneys can assist you in pursuing the repayment you deserve. Get started today by contacting us online or calling us at (512) 277-3166 for a free case review.