What Is Child Support Technically Supposed to Be Used for in Texas?

By Brenna Davis

Child support is money paid by a noncustodial parent to cover a portion of the child's expenses. Texas child support payments are based on the income of the noncustodial parent, but a custodial parent may seek an increase in child support to cover some things, such as extraordinary medical expenses. Child support can be used to cover a number of expenses, and the custodial parent has broad discretion in determining how to use child support.


In Texas, child support is based on the payer's income. Parents with one child pay 20 percent of their income, with the amount increasing with each additional child. Employers must deduct child support directly from a payer's paycheck. County child support agencies collect the child support funds and then disburse them to the custodial parent.

Child Support Uses

Parents may use child support to cover a broad array of expenses associated with the child. These include educational, health care and housing expenses, as well as family utility bills, mortgage payments, travel expenses, clothing and food. Child support payments do not have to be kept separate from other household money, and the payer does not have to consent to expenses child support covers.

Parental Discretion

Texas law grants broad discretion to payees in determining how to use child support. For example, if child support is used to cover the mortgage, this is not a misuse of funds because it is presumed that the parent uses this money to house the child. Child support may also be considered a reimbursement for expenses already paid. Thus, if a parent uses part of a child support payment to pay for a vacation or other discretionary expense, this is not a misuse because that parent may have already paid for the child's expenses with her own money. Unless the child is being neglected, and her basic expenses are not covered, the parent may use the child support payment as she pleases.

Child Support Misuse

You may not simply stop paying child support simply because you disagree with how the money is being used. Doing so could result in contempt charges, wage garnishments and late fees. It is very difficult to prove that support is not being used to pay for a child's expenses unless the child is being neglected. Because child support is considered a fundamental right of children, Texas does not take the payee's income into account. Noncustodial parents must support their children, even if this results in the custodial parent having "extra" money.