Whether you're paying or receiving child support, understanding how
Texas penalizes child support delinquency can help you ensure your child
receives the support they deserve.
Today, we're taking a look at how Texas penalizes child support (and
what you can do to address child support delinquency as a payor/recipient).
What Happens if You Don't Pay Child Support in Texas?
Parents who fail to pay for child support face a number of penalties, depending
on the severity of the situation:
- Wage withholding. Frequently, judges in divorce cases ask child support
payors to notify their employer of their child support obligation. If
a parent fails to pay for child support, the Texas Office of the Attorney
General (OAG) might work with the parent's employer to garnish wages
until the delinquent child support is repaid.
- License suspension. The OAG can suspend a parent's driving, professional,
or hunting and fishing license if they fail to pay for child support.
- Liens. The OAG can file a lien on items such as bank accounts, retirement
plans, insurance plans, etc. for delinquent child support payors.
- Credit reporting. The OAG works with credit reporting agencies to ensure
delinquent child support payments decrease the parent's credit score.
- Lottery interception. The OAG can seize lottery winnings to repay delinquent
child support. The recently announced COVID-19 stimulus check is also
susceptible to interception by federal or state officials for missing
- Passport denial. Noncustodial parents can have passport requests denied
for failing to pay for child support.
The court in the county where the initial child support judgment was entered
will notify parents when they fall behind on child support payments. Typically,
the court tries to work with parents to establish a payment plan and get
them caught up.
Since missing child support payments can directly impact a child's
life, the court often makes a deadline for repaying delinquent support.
Missed payments are usually coupled with a fine.
In cases where a parent misses the deadline too many times or outright
refuses to pay for delinquent support, they can be sentenced to jail until
they repay any missing child support.
The Texas Child Support Evader Program
As part of Texas' commitment to prosecuting child support evaders,
the OAG developed the Texas Child Support Evader Program. If a parent:
- Is more than $5,000 behind on child support payments,
- has an arrest warrant issued for them,
- is avoiding apprehension by the law,
- have not made payments in six months,
- and is not involved in bankruptcy proceedings,
They are eligible for the Evader Program. If the custodial parent signs
a confidentiality waiver for the OAG, and a photograph of the delinquent
parent is available, the OAG will print and digitize public notices.
The Evader Program is essentially used for parents who refuse to pay child
support and are actively evading law enforcement professionals. The program
allows citizens to report child support delinquents so the custodial parent
can recoup lost payments and provide for their child.
I'm Behind on My Child Support—What Should I Do?
If you're behind on child support payments, don't panic. The most
important thing you can do is be proactive.
Contact the OAG's
Child Support Enforcement Division immediately and let them know why you're behind on your payments.
Simply taking ownership of the problem and being willing to work with
the OAG to resolve it should stop the OAG from taking legal action against you.
Work with the OAG to develop a payment plan for the lost support. If you
can't pay for child support because your financial circumstances have
changed, you should file a
child support order modification case with the court where the order was initially issued.
It's also worth noting that certain occurrences, such as the custodial
parent remarrying, can void the child support agreement. A child support
attorney can help you work through the details of your case and pursue
a more equitable arrangement with the court.
To arrange a consultation with an experienced TX child support attorney,
contact our office online.