Penalty for Non Payment of Child Support in Texas

By Christine Funk, J.D.

Penalty for Non Payment of Child Support in Texas

By Christine Funk, J.D.

In the state of Texas, the non custodial parent is typically ordered to pay child support. This is based on the public policy decisions of the Texas legislature, which include a commitment to making sure both parents financially support their children.

Little girl and little boy holding hands

Courts use a number of factors when determining the appropriate amount of child support someone must pay. These factors include current income, number of children, the amount of parenting time each parent has, and other child support obligations. When a parent fails to pay, the state of Texas has several courses of action they can take.

Recovering Child Support Obligations

As a preliminary matter, the state of Texas can work with a person's employer to ensure the money a person owes is taken directly from their paycheck. The state can also work with financial institutions that the individual is banking with to freeze money in the account. For people who are unemployed, or make the bulk of their income in cash (such as a waiter who makes tips), the government can also take federal tax refunds.

They may also take lottery winnings to pay obligations. Once a person who was unemployed or underemployed regains employment, the government will take child support arrears (also known as “back child support") as well as the ongoing financial obligation from a parent's paycheck.

Additional Consequences for Failing to Pay Child Support

In addition to recovering child support, the state can take other actions to penalize someone who is not paying. For example, the state may suspend a person's driving privileges or prevent someone from getting a hunting license, fishing license, or concealed handgun license. If someone already has such a license, the state can revoke it. For both driver's licenses and other types of licenses, once they are revoked, the person must pay a reinstatement fee in addition to catching up with their obligations to get the license back.

In some cases, a person may face jail time as a consequence of not paying. Where a person is deliberately and intentionally refusing to pay, despite the financial ability to do so, the court can hold them in contempt. Contempt of court can have both civil and criminal consequences. A person may receive a jail sentence of up to six months for failing to pay child support.

Pay What You Can

If someone is in a situation where they can pay some, but not all of their obligation, it is a good idea to pay what they can. This way, they can demonstrate good faith and an intention to comply with the court's previously ordered obligation.

Sometimes divorcing couples fight over every issue, but many couples find they can come to an agreement on their own. Child support is just one of the many issues a couple must come to terms with during a divorce. However, if a couple is in agreement, they can get an uncontested divorce with little difficulty. An uncontested divorce is good for those in agreement on all issues, including child support, child custody, spousal support, and division of marital assets.

This portion of the site is for informational purposes only. The content is not legal advice. The statements and opinions are the expression of author, not LegalZoom, and have not been evaluated by LegalZoom for accuracy, completeness, or changes in the law.

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