What Do You Do in the State of Texas if the Father Is Not Paying Child Support?

By Heather Frances J.D.

Your divorce decree likely outlines the judge’s order for your ex-spouse to pay child support. While this order is usually clearly spelled out, some fathers fail to pay child support, so Texas law provides several ways to encourage -- and even force -- a parent to honor this legal obligation. These options include getting assistance from the Child Support Division of the Texas Attorney General's Office.

Income Withholding

Child support orders issued by Texas courts, whether or not they are part of divorce decrees, contain provisions for withholding payments from the paying spouse’s income. These income-withholding orders require the paying spouse’s employer to take the child support amount directly from his paycheck. If both parents agree, they can waive the withholding provision in the support order until such time as the paying spouse may fail to make timely payments. Regardless of whether the spouse’s employer withholds income for child support, the paying spouse is still responsible to pay the entire amount of child support on time as ordered.

Delinquency

If your ex-spouse fails to pay child support on time, interest accrues on all missed payments. But even if your ex-spouse is not fulfilling his obligations under the court's child support order, you must fulfill yours. You cannot withhold visitation rights just because he has not paid child support. Courts view child support and visitation as two separate issues -- child support is not payment in exchange for visitation privileges.

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State Assistance

The Texas Attorney General’s Office has a Child Support Enforcement Division charged with enforcing child support orders that operates out of field offices throughout Texas. The attorneys in this division can help you collect past due child support or otherwise enforce your support order, though they cannot represent you personally. Their goal is simply to see that the judge’s order is enforced. To receive services from the Attorney General, you can contact the field office that covers your area – online, by phone or in person -- and complete an application for services. If you receive state assistance, you automatically receive support collection services without having to apply.

Enforcement Options

Parents who use the collection services of the Texas Attorney General cannot select which enforcement actions are to be taken in their cases. The Child Support Enforcement Division may pursue penalties such as filing liens against your ex-spouse’s property or other assets, suspending his driver’s license or professional licenses and intercepting his tax returns. They can also file a lawsuit against your ex-spouse. The judge may find him in contempt of court for non-compliance with the support order, which can result in jail time. As the custodial parent, you can also file a motion with the court to enforce the child support order without assistance from the state. If you file on your own, the court can impose the same penalties against your ex-spouse as those available to the Child Support Enforcement Division.

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Help With Receiving Unpaid Child Support in Texas

References

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Kansas Laws on Non-Payment of Child Support

Kansas monitors child support by requiring parents to make their payments through the Kansas Payment Center. Language to this effect must be included in every new or modified child support order. Under both state and federal law, child support payments are made through income withholding orders, or IWOs. IWOs obligate a parent's employer to deduct child support from his wages or salary and forward it to the state. If a parent is unemployed or self-employed, however, IWOs may not work and a parent can fall behind with payments.

Can Alimony Be Paid Directly to the Ex-Spouse & Child Support Through Child Support Enforcement?

When couples divorce, the court may issue a divorce decree ordering a spouse to pay child support and alimony to the other spouse. Typically, the divorce decree describes the manner in which payments must be made. Courts may direct that alimony be paid directly to the recipient spouse while child support is paid to the recipient spouse through the state’s child support agency. However, if these arrangements do not work well for the parties, the court may permit alternate arrangements.

Oregon Unpaid Child Support Penalties

Providing for a child's needs can be especially challenging for a single parent, especially when the parent isn't receiving regular child support payments. A child's need for shelter, transportation, food and clothing doesn't change just because a parent stops paying support. The Oregon Child Support Program can help a recipient parent collect child support. Oregon penalties for unpaid child support help motivate parents to stay current with their child support obligations.

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