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What Happens When Child Support Isn’t Paid?

An important aspect of a custody case is the child support obligation ordered by the court.

In an ideal situation, the issue of child support would not be a problem, but sometimes, the parent ordered to pay child support fails to fulfill his or her obligation. What recourse does the parent have at that point?

Child Support as Public Policy

In the State of Texas, it is public policy that both parents are to play an active role in the upbringing of their children. This role includes being physically involved in the children’s lives, but also being financially involved.

After parents divorce, it is up to the Court to ensure that the children are properly cared for by both sets of parents. The non-custodial parent will be obligated to pay child support to help with the upbringing of his or her children when they are not in his or her care, which is where child support comes in.

How Is Child Support Calculated?

Child support is based off of a percentage of the parent’s take home pay, factoring in how many children he or she has, including previously-born children.

The support is also based on the number of children the parties share in the marriage, meaning the number of children for whom the support order is intended. The more children the custodial parent has to pay for, the higher the percentage of their income that will be taken for child support payments.

Failure to Pay Child Support

What happens when the non-custodial parent fails to meet his or her child support obligation and continually fails to fully pay child support?

In these situations, the parent receiving the child support has the right to seek court enforcement. The custodial parent would file a Motion for Enforcement of the prior support order. In this document, the parent would inform the court of the violations, give the specific dates when the order was violated, and bring any information that the court needs to know regarding the matter.

What this means is the parent needs to report to the court:

  1. The monthly amount that parent is supposed to receive in child support;
  2. The dates the paying parent missed child support payments; and
  3. The total amount of child support arrearage that is owed.

The enforcement motion must reference the specific section of the prior order that is in violation. This should be easy to locate in terms of finding where the child support was ordered previously. Not including all of this information in the motion can be grounds for having it denied.

What Are the Possible Remedies?

Once it is brought to the court’s attention, and the court is properly convinced that a violation of the court order has occurred, the following remedies can be ordered:

  • The court can order the party to pay the amounts that are owed to the other parent; or
  • The court make take the total arrearage owed and distribute it over the course of time by adding it to the amount already ordered on a monthly basis.

Child support arrearages come with an interest rate of six percent attached to it. Therefore, the court takes that interest rate into account when calculating the amount owed.

In certain situations, the court may need to resort to other extreme measures to ensure that the individual receives payment, including:

  • Placing a lien on property or any other assets of the parent who owes the support;
  • Suspending professional or recreational licenses of the paying parent until the amount is paid in full, including an individual’s Class C driver’s license to operate a truck or other heavy machinery;
  • In some situations, if the amount of support that is owed is significant and this is not the first time, the court may order that parent to a jail sentence. However, if jail time is requested, it must be limited to no more than six months or 180 days.

How Long Should the Parent Wait to Proceed?

How long should the parent who is supposed to be receiving child support has to wait before filing anything?

Sometimes, if a parent waits too long, it can be very hard to track down the offending parent in terms of implementing an income withholding order to enforce the support payment.

As soon as support payments are missed, it is recommended that an attorney be contacted to discuss how the parent should proceed.

Contact A Custody Lawyer Today

If you have questions about child support enforcement, please contact family lawyers at Scott M. Brown and Associates. You can reach us by calling (979) 318-3075 or completing our online form. We have offices in Angleton, League City/Clear Lake, and Pearland.

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