Unpaid child support, known as arrears, can accumulate quickly in Texas, often accruing interest charges that seem unclear in terms of allocation. If you’re looking for a quick answer, the interest on child support arrears in Texas is owed to the parent or guardian receiving the support, not the state.

In this comprehensive guide, we’ll analyze Texas child support laws regarding arrears and the application of interest charges. By examining statutes, court precedents, and case examples, you’ll understand exactly how interest accrual works for overdue support payments.

Texas Statutes on Child Support Interest

Family Code Sec. 157.265

According to the Texas Family Code Sec. 157.265, interest on child support arrears is mandatory in Texas. This means that if a parent falls behind on their child support payments, they will be responsible for paying interest on the overdue amount.

The interest rate is set by the state and is generally calculated annually. The purpose of charging interest is to encourage parents to stay current on their child support payments and to compensate the custodial parent for the delay in receiving the money.

Human Resources Code Sec. 31.003

Human Resources Code Sec. 31.003 in Texas also addresses child support interest. It states that interest begins to accrue on child support arrears from the date the payment becomes delinquent. This means that if a parent fails to make a child support payment on time, interest will start to accumulate from that date.

It’s important for parents to stay on top of their child support obligations to avoid accruing additional interest.

It’s worth noting that the interest rate on child support arrears in Texas can vary over time. The state periodically reviews and adjusts the interest rate to ensure it remains fair and reasonable.

For more information on child support interest in Texas, you can visit the official Texas Legislature website: https://statutes.capitol.texas.gov/Docs/FA/htm/FA.157.htm and https://statutes.capitol.texas.gov/Docs/HU/htm/HU.31.htm.

Court Precedents and DRO Decisions

Texas Supreme Court Rulings

The Texas Supreme Court has played a crucial role in shaping the law regarding interest on child support arrears. In the case of Ex parte Barrientos, the court ruled that interest on child support arrears is mandatory and must be awarded to the custodial parent.

This ruling was based on the belief that interest serves as a deterrent for noncustodial parents who fail to make timely child support payments.

Another landmark ruling by the Texas Supreme Court is the Ex parte Threet case. In this case, the court clarified that interest on child support arrears should be calculated from the date of each missed payment, rather than from the date of the court order.

This decision ensures that custodial parents receive the full amount of interest owed to them.

DRO Consistent Position

Decisions by the Division of Revenue Operations (DRO) in Texas have consistently followed the precedents set by the Texas Supreme Court. The DRO, which oversees child support enforcement, follows a strict policy of awarding interest on child support arrears to the custodial parent.

According to the DRO guidelines, interest is calculated at a rate of 6% per year, compounded annually. This means that the amount of interest owed will increase over time if the arrears are not paid off.

It is important for noncustodial parents to be aware of this policy and make timely payments to avoid accruing additional interest.

For more information on the DRO’s policy regarding interest on child support arrears, you can visit their official website at https://www.dro.texas.gov.

How Interest Amounts Are Determined

When it comes to child support arrears in Texas, the calculation of interest amounts is an important factor. The state has specific rules in place to ensure that the owed amount continues to grow until it is fully paid off. Here’s how interest amounts are determined:

12% Annual Rate

In Texas, the interest rate applied to child support arrears is set at 12% per year. This means that for every year the arrears go unpaid, an additional 12% of the total amount is added as interest. This rate is consistent across the state and applies to both current and past-due child support payments.

The 12% annual rate is significant as it ensures that the responsible party feels the financial impact of not meeting their child support obligations. It serves as a deterrent for falling behind on payments and encourages timely fulfillment of these obligations.

Compounding Accrual

One important aspect of interest on child support arrears in Texas is that it compounds over time. This means that not only is interest calculated based on the original amount owed, but it also accrues on any previously accumulated interest.

As a result, the total owed amount can increase substantially if the arrears remain unpaid for an extended period.

The compounding nature of interest serves as an incentive for the responsible party to address their child support obligations promptly. It highlights the importance of staying current on payments to avoid the accumulation of additional interest over time.

It’s worth noting that the interest on child support arrears in Texas is not adjustable and cannot be waived by either party involved. The state enforces this interest rate to ensure that the child’s financial needs are prioritized, and the owed amount is eventually paid in full.

For more information on child support laws and regulations in Texas, you can visit the official Texas Attorney General’s website at https://www.texasattorneygeneral.gov/child-support.

Collecting Interest from Delinquent Parents

When it comes to child support arrears in Texas, collecting interest from delinquent parents is an important aspect of ensuring that children receive the financial support they need. The state has implemented measures to hold parents accountable for their outstanding payments and to encourage timely repayment.

Documenting Arrears Balance

The first step in collecting interest from delinquent parents is to accurately document the arrears balance. This involves keeping detailed records of the amount owed, the dates of missed payments, and any relevant court orders or agreements.

It is crucial to have this information on hand in case legal action needs to be taken.

Additionally, it is important to note that interest on child support arrears in Texas accrues at a rate of 6% per year. This means that the unpaid balance continues to accumulate interest until it is fully repaid.

Keeping track of the interest amount can help determine the total amount owed by the delinquent parent.

Pursuing Repayment

Once the arrears balance is properly documented, the next step is to pursue repayment from the delinquent parent. There are several methods available to collect unpaid child support, including wage garnishment, tax refund intercepts, and driver’s license suspension.

Wage garnishment is a common method used to collect child support arrears. It involves deducting a portion of the delinquent parent’s wages directly from their paycheck and redirecting it towards the outstanding balance. This ensures a consistent and timely payment schedule.

Tax refund intercepts are another effective means of collecting unpaid child support. The state of Texas has the authority to intercept any tax refunds owed to the delinquent parent and apply them towards the arrears balance.

This method can be particularly effective in cases where the delinquent parent has a substantial tax refund due.

Driver’s license suspension is a powerful tool that can be used to encourage delinquent parents to repay their child support arrears. In Texas, the Department of Motor Vehicles has the authority to suspend a parent’s driver’s license if they fail to make their required child support payments.

This can serve as a strong incentive for the delinquent parent to take immediate action and fulfill their financial obligations.

Strategies for Managing Arrears

Seeking Modifications

One of the strategies for managing child support arrears in Texas is seeking modifications. If you are struggling to make the required payments due to a change in circumstances, such as a job loss or a decrease in income, you may be able to request a modification of your child support order.

This modification can help you to reduce the amount of arrears you owe and make the payments more manageable.

It is important to note that modifications are not automatic and must be approved by a judge. To request a modification, you will need to submit a formal request to the court and provide evidence of the change in circumstances.

It is recommended to consult with an experienced family law attorney to help you navigate the process and increase your chances of success.

Filing Contempt Motions

Another strategy for managing arrears is filing contempt motions. If the non-custodial parent has consistently failed to make child support payments, you may consider filing a contempt motion with the court.

This legal action asserts that the other parent is in violation of the court order and asks the court to enforce the child support obligations.

When filing a contempt motion, it is important to gather evidence of the missed payments, such as bank statements or payment receipts. The court may then issue a summons for the non-paying parent to appear and explain their failure to comply with the court order.

If found in contempt, the court may impose penalties, such as fines, wage garnishment, or even imprisonment, to compel compliance.

It is crucial to follow the proper legal procedures when filing a contempt motion, as the court will require evidence and documentation to support your claim. Consulting with an attorney can help you understand the process and increase your chances of a successful outcome.

For more information on child support arrears in Texas, you can visit the Texas Attorney General’s website. They provide comprehensive resources and guidelines to help parents navigate the child support system and manage arrears effectively.


In Texas, the interest that accrues on overdue child support payments belongs to the receiving parent or guardian. While collecting interest can be challenging, understanding its allocation under state statutes provides important clarity for managing arrears.

With the detailed information provided here, parents owed support can make informed decisions on pursuing repayment of both principal amounts and all accumulated interest.

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