Child support is just that—money paid to the custodial parent by the non-custodial parent to ensure that a child receives support from both parents. In many cases, this money is paid and used as it was intended, and both parents can ensure the child’s wellbeing.
For many custodial parents, receiving child support is not always consistent—or not at all. Texas takes this very seriously and imposes penalties for nonpayment. When a parent—male or female—decides not to pay child support, the family court can step in and begin enforcement.
Ignoring the child support order will not make it disappear, and as the balance accumulates, it also includes interest. Additionally, there is no statute of limitations on unpaid child support, so a parent can recover overdue child support years after the child has grown up.
Consequences Of Non-Payment
For a parent who refuses to pay, The Texas Attorney General’s office can:
• Suspend licenses—the first one to go is a driver’s license, even a Commercial Driver’s License (CDL.) The Attorney General’s office can contact 60 different state agencies to suspend licenses such as medical, legal, and other professional licenses, as well as fishing and hunting.
• Wage garnishment—the state can also garnish a paycheck to recover past-due child support.
• File a lien—The AG’s office can file a financial lien against nearly any asset owned by the other parent, including a home, business, bank and retirement accounts, lawsuit settlements, life insurance policies, and any other assets with value to recover. A “child support lien” will stay in place until the lien is paid.
• Intercept winnings—if a parent wins lottery money, the state can obtain the overdue support via the Texas Comptroller’s Office to recover funds for support as well as medical and dental expenses. The state can also intercept tax refunds.
• Adverse entry in a credit report—overdue child support is also reported to credit bureaus. It’s listed as a debt on the delinquent parent’s credit report, impacting their credit score.
• No passport—a parent owing more than $2500 in Texas can be prevented from obtaining a passport.
• Prison time—a parent found in contempt of court can go to jail for as much as six months. Should a judge find a parent in violation of Texas Penal Code 25.05, he or she can be charged with criminal nonsupport, imprisoned for two years, and fined as much as $10,000.
Child support cannot be withheld over visitation. They are two separate issues and should be dealt with accordingly. A parent cannot prevent the child from seeing their other parent over unpaid child support, and the parent is not allowed to stop paying child support if they are unable to see their child.
Likewise, incarceration does not stop the obligation, and it still accumulates accordingly.
When A Parent Is Unable To Pay
The other side of the issue is the parent who is experiencing obstacles that make paying child support difficult, such as:
• Job loss
• Business difficulties or failure
• Health problems
• Increased expenses for other dependents, such as a parent, spouse, or another child
You’ll need to go back to court for a modification of the support order. Otherwise, the aforementioned penalties will be deployed, adding to the burden.
It’s important to act quickly to avoid more severe penalties. First, immediately contact Texas’ Child Support Division and ask for assistance with a modification for a support order. They can also discuss your situation with you and help answer any questions.
Tarrant County’s Family Law Attorney
Wendy L. Hart is an experienced family law attorney helping people throughout Tarrant County who are dealing with child support issues. As a divorcee, Wendy understands the difficulties involved and will work to resolve your case fairly, and will protect your interests and those of your children.
You can visit our Mansfield office at 2363 HWY 287 N, Suite 108, use our online contact form, or call us at (817) 842-2336.