Children are entitled to support from both of their parents. In the event of a familial breakup, the custodial parent bears the financial responsibility of day-to-day care of the child (or children.) The state of Texas requires the second parent to contribute financially to the care of the child while encouraging both to sustain a relationship with the child.
Child support and conservatorship (custody) is normally a part of divorce proceedings. For an unmarried couple, the father establishes paternity is established at birth or afterwards, possibly with a court-ordered DNA test. If child support becomes necessary, one parent can apply for it online, or get help from a qualified family law attorney. Once the process is complete, you should be receiving regular monthly payments from the other parent.
If you’re the parent paying child support, it’s vitally important to continue making the payments, even if you are denied visitation rights by the other parent. A family law attorney can help you with re-establishing a visitation schedule, since it will require a court order. But stopping your child support has other, more serious consequences for both you and the child.
Enforcement: What Happens Next
When child support stops, the Texas Office of the Attorney General has a number of sanctions to levy against a parent, including jail time:
- License suspension: the OAG works with over 60 state issuing agencies. Should you fail to pay child support, your driver’s license, hunting/fishing licenses, and even professional license (i.e., law, medical, etc.) can be suspended until your support obligation is paid up.
- Passport: you will be refused a new or renewed passport
- Credit report: the OAG reports any delinquency of child support to the credit bureaus
- Financial liens on assets: bank accounts, retirement plans, properties, life insurance plans, awards from personal injury cases, and insurance settlements can all be taken to settle a child support account in arrears
- Lottery winnings will also be taken to satisfy overdue child support
- Jail time for contempt of court
- For a civil contempt charge, you will serve a specific number of days in jail for every payment you’ve missed, and will be required to serve even if you pay in full
- For a criminal contempt charge, you will be arrested and remain in jail until you comply with a court order, either paying the entire amount in arrears, or paying a “purge” amount.
When You Can’t Pay Child Support
You may have occasions when you are unable to meet your obligations. About 80% of noncustodial fathers are men. But noncustodial women may be as likely as men to be unemployed, under-employed, become disabled, have a sudden medical or other emergency, or have a financial event that causes them to be unable to pay child support.
If you find yourself with a substantial change in your financial circumstances, you can go to court to request a modification of your child support order. You can also request a change if it has been greater than three years since the last change, and the new amount would differ by $100 or 20% of the original amount.
Tarrant County’s Family Law Attorney
Don’t ignore your obligation, since it will not go away. Get help immediately from an experienced family law attorney to prevent
Wendy L. Hart is an experienced family law attorney helping people throughout Tarrant County who are dealing with child custody 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.