Texas

Some Texans paying child support may see their rates rise after Sept. 1

New cases requiring requiring child support likely will require the parent making payments to also provide health and dental insurance for their child.
New cases requiring requiring child support likely will require the parent making payments to also provide health and dental insurance for their child. AP

Child support changes in Texas — for some — starting Saturday.

That’s when a new law goes into effect requiring parents who pay child support in the Lone Star State to start providing dental insurance — in addition to the already required health insurance — for their kids.

But not everyone will be impacted right away, said Annette Hernandez, communications director for the Texas Attorney General’s Child Support division.

“It’s really important to make sure the public understands this is not something to panic about,” she said. “This is not an automatic change.

“This is dictated by the courts.”

Last year, there were more than 110,000 open child support cases in Tarrant County and more than 1.5 million across the state, according to new statistics provided by the Texas Attorney General’s office.

New cases requiring child support likely will require the parent making payments to provide dental insurance for their child.

But if child support payments already are underway and health insurance already is being provided, if there’s no separate financial change for the parent receiving the payments, a request for dental insurance isn’t enough of a reason to bring that case to court, Hernandez said.

“It’s not an automatic thing,” she said. “Customers who already have ongoing child support obligations have to request a modification of their case. ... They can’t be modified solely on the addition of dental support.”

The law going into effect comes from Senate Bill 550, a measure passed by the Texas Legislature in 2015.

That law requires child support cases moving forward to include dental insurance at a “reasonable cost,” meaning they shouldn’t cost more than 1.5 percent of the annual income for the parent paying child support.

Many parents may already provide this insurance, even though it hasn’t been required by law.

SB 550 delayed implementation of the new law until Sept. 1, 2018, to give the Attorney General’s office time to put in place needed system and process changes.

Anna Tinsley: 817-390-7610, @annatinsley


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