Adult Disabled Child Support Laws in Texas

Have An Adult Child With Disabilities? Here’s What You Need To Know About Child Support 

If you have an adult child with disabilities, you may be wondering how child support laws in Texas will impact your family. The unique challenges faced by your child can come in many different forms, and levels of dependency, but you always want to ensure that your child is cared for.

Generally, child support must be paid until the child turns 18 or graduates high school, whichever comes first. The resources that are counted and the amount of child support owed will vary from case to case, and it’s important to work with your lawyer to pursue the best possible outcome. Both custody and support can also be modified in certain circumstances.

Texas Family Code, however, has made unique exceptions to child support laws for cases involving a disabled adult child. Here’s how it differs.

Child Support Modification for an Adult Disabled Child 

There are a variety of circumstantial changes that can happen in a child’s life that make child support modification possible, but in most cases child support ends when the child becomes a legal adult. Texas law, however, allows for unique modifications to meet the needs of a family with a disabled child into adulthood.

According to Texas Family Code, child support can be extended indefinitely if a disabled child:

    • Requires substantial care and personal supervision because of a mental or physical disability and will not be capable of self-support; and

    • The disability exists, or the cause of the disability is known to exist, on or before the eighteenth birthday of the child.

A judge will ultimately decide whether to order one or both parents to provide financial support to the child, and in some cases will even order that support be paid directly to the disabled adult child if this proves to be best and viable.

This modification option helps protect one parent from taking on the full financial burden of caring for their disabled adult child. An adult disabled child with significant needs could require nearly constant attention, making it impossible for their guardian to work and produce income. Additionally, the medical needs of a severely disabled adult child can be very expensive, and would often be impossible for one parent to shoulder alone.

By modifying the child support arrangement, your child can continue to receive support after they turn 18.

 How Much Will You Owe in Child Support? 

 Determining child support costs in Texas is rarely cut and dry, and extended support for an adult disabled child is no exception. A wide range of variables will be taken into consideration by the court before an amount is settled upon. If, for example, the payor has lower income or generally limited resources, exceptions are available to make the financial burden feasible.

 When it comes to determining child support for an adult disabled child, a judge will typically apply a needs-based assessment. The judge will give special attention to:

    • the existing and future needs of the adult disabled child, and the costs involved

    • the financial resources available to both parents to meet the needs of the adult disabled child (including a lost ability to earn due to constant supervision)

 The goal of the court is to seek fair and reasonable arrangements, with a thorough consideration of each factor, while also pursuing the best interest of the child. It’s important, however, to consult with your lawyer at each step of the process to secure the best outcome for you and your child.

New Laws Based On Family and Protective Services 

Recent laws have outlined more clear guidance for cases in which the Department of Family and Protective Services must intervene for the well-being of the child. The Department of Family and Protective Services (DFPS) may be called upon to become the temporary or permanent conservator of a disabled child if the parents have demonstrated an inability to properly care for the child.

  • If the DFPS becomes the temporary managing conservator of a disabled adult child , the court may order either or both parents to provide periodic support payments. If the DFPS becomes permanent conservator, but the parents’ rights have not been terminated, the court will order each parent who is financially able to make periodic payments.

An Amendment made in September of 2021 also specifies that if the court renders an order to modify the child support arrangements with the DFPS, the court must provide notice of the order to the attorney general no more than 10 days from the day the order is rendered.

The Importance of Clear Guidance  

As Family Lawyers, we know that every child support case is unique, and for a family with a disabled adult child, support can quickly become complex. It’s important not to navigate these challenges alone.

At Capps Law, we have been recognized as a leading attorney in Texas Family Law, and our deep knowledge and experience in custody cases makes us a powerful advocate to have at your side. Meet with us, and let us provide guidance on the next steps to take for your child.

This article does not create an attorney-client relationship. Its purpose is to educate the public about the topic of family law. This article should not be seen as legal advice. You should consult with an attorney before you rely on this information.