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Child Support Enforcement in Texas

Child support can be a touchy subject between parents, especially if one is not holding up their end of the bargain. When a court orders a parent to pay child support, they are supposed to follow the rules. The custodial parent counts on that money to pay for their child’s needs. Whether it’s food, clothing, or money for activities, that child support money is something that needs to be paid consistently, when it is due.

When it is not paid, child support enforcement may be necessary. It’s a measure that no one likes to take, but one that is often carried out to make sure that the custodial parent has the means to take care of the child properly.
Parents who are ordered to pay child support may argue that they can’t afford it. But, the amount of child support owed is calculated using a strict method so that it is fair and reasonable.

The state of Texas uses something called “guidelines child support” to determine how much child support needs to be paid. The breakdown is as follows:

1 child = 20% of the noncustodial parent’s average monthly net resources
2 children = 25% of the noncustodial parent’s average monthly net resources
3 children = 30% of the noncustodial parent’s average monthly net resources
4 children = 35% of the noncustodial parent’s average monthly net resources
5 children = 40% of the noncustodial parent’s average monthly net resources
6 or more children = not less than 40% of the noncustodial parent’s average monthly net resources
(source: texaslawhelp.org)

While that can be used as a general guideline, the amounts will differ if the non-custodial parent has children with someone else.

What Happens if a Parent Wants to Change the Child Support Amount?

Any changes to child support need to go through the court. If you need to change the amount, it’s best to contact an attorney who can help you with the process. A modification case must be filed to make that determination. Not all requests are granted.

There are rules in place to request a change in child support:
• Must be at least three years since the last child support order
• The new amount would differ by 20% or $100 from the original

If your situation does not fall under either of these categories, you may not receive a change in the child support amount. But, a judge may still agree to change the amount of child support owed if one parent gets hurt or loses a job.

What Type of Child Support Enforcement Happens if Child Support is Not Paid?

Failure to pay child support is considered a serious offense in Texas. If the non-custodial parent fails to pay child support and is uncooperative, your attorney can petition the court to enforce the child support order.

If there is still no child support paid despite the order, the non-paying parent may expect the following child support enforcement:

  • Being sent to jail

Under Texas law, a judge can find you in contempt of court for not paying child support. You can be put in jail for up to six months. You could also be found in violation of a statute that makes it a state jail felony to “intentionally” or “knowingly” fail to pay court-ordered child support. In addition, you could face up to six months in state jail and a maximum $10,000 fine.

  • Having wages garnished
  • Suspension of driver’s license or any professional licenses
  • Having a lien put against property
  • Being ordered to pay all child support with interest
  • Interception of tax refunds or any lottery winnings

Besides facing these consequences, the non-custodial parent may also face problems getting a passport. If you owe more than $2,500 in child support, you are not eligible to get a U.S. passport.

Your credit rating can also be negatively affected. Any unpaid child support gets reported to credit bureaus since it is an unpaid debt.

It’s also important to know that child support doesn’t stop if the non-custodial parent is in jail. The debt will add up behind the bars. If the non-custodial parent is incarcerated, they can file an affidavit to show that circumstances have changed. This will let the court know that they are not working at the time.

Why is Enforcing Child Support in Texas so Strict?

Custodial parents rely on child support money to take care of their children. Many have only one income. When the money is not paid, it puts their ability to support their child at risk. Children may go hungry or without proper clothing simply because there is no money to afford the bare necessities.

By enforcing child support laws, the state of Texas is working to protect children and assure that they are properly taken care of. Since the amount of child support is based upon monthly net resources, the non-custodial parent should not have trouble paying the amount under normal circumstances.

If circumstances change, it’s best to try to pay some portion than to not pay at all. This will at least show the court that you are making an effort. If you fall upon hard times, notify the court immediately to avoid strict child support enforcement.

Do You Need Help with Child Support Enforcement?

If you are owed child support payments to help you care for your children, Wilson & Associates Law, P.C. can help. Child support enforcement is something that requires legal aid. Our team will evaluate your case and determine the best course of action. We want your children to be cared for just as much as you do. We will fight to make sure you get the child support you are entitled to under the law.

Call us today at 214-646-3253 to make an appointment so that we can begin to help you with your child support enforcement issues today.