What Happens When Someone Refuses To Pay Child Support in Texas?
You’re divorced or separated from your child’s other parent, and the child spends most of their time with you. You have a court order stating the amount of child support you should receive each month, but the noncustodial parent fails to pay child support or owes back payments. Now what?
Attorney Tycha Kimbrough of Kimbrough Legal, a child support lawyer in Austin, TX, explains how child support works in the state and what you can do if your co-parent isn’t paying support.
Calculating Child Support in Texas
In most cases, the parent the court orders to pay child support is the one that spends the least time with the child (the noncustodial parent). To determine the amount of child support, a Texas family law court will typically consider the parent’s monthly income, minus taxes and the child(ren)’s health insurance costs, and allot roughly:
- 20% of the net income for one child
- 25% for two children
- 30% for three children
- 35% for four children
- 40% for five children
- More than 40% for six children and up
These numbers may be substantially lower if the noncustodial parent also has legal child support obligations towards children from a different relationship.
Additionally, enrollment in public assistance programs like TANF (Temporary Assistance for Needy Families) or Medicaid may affect the child support you receive. For instance, TANF recipients grant the state the right to establish and enforce child support collection. Apart from the first $75 the family gets each month, the rest of the sum goes to government agencies to reimburse them for paying TANF benefits.
Penalties for Not Paying Child Support
Texas parents who neglect their child support obligations may face severe penalties, including:
- Wage garnishment through an automatic withholding order
- Seizure of federal or state tax returns
- Driver’s license suspension, as well as suspension of any other state-issued licenses
- Denial of passport issuing or renewal if the back child support payments amount to over $2,500
- Liens on the parent’s bank account, real property, savings accounts, and other assets by the Texas Office of Attorney General (OAG)
- A drop in credit score following the OAG’s report to credit reporting agencies
- Jail time of up to two years and a fine of up to $10,000 if a court finds the parent guilty of “criminal nonsupport”
In Texas, non-payers may also end up on the OAG’s Child Support Evaders list, which publicly exposes parents under an arrest warrant and with over $5,000 in child support debt.
Child Support and Visitation Rights
Does your co-parent’s failure to pay child support impact their rights to see the child? The answer is no. Even if your child’s other parent doesn’t keep their end of the bargain, they are still entitled to spend time with the child according to their court-ordered custody or visitation schedule.
While you can pursue legal action against your co-parent for not paying child support, you aren’t allowed to prevent visitation to enforce child support payments. This type of court order violation could cost you a heavy fine or jail time. If your case ends in a family law court, the judge may even award the other parent a larger custody share.
To sum it up, denying your co-parent’s visitation rights hurts your child and their other parent and is both unethical and illegal. Consult a child support lawyer to determine your legal options if your child’s other parent neglects their child support obligations.
Do You Need a Child Support Lawyer?
If possible, you should maintain an amicable relationship with your co-parent. An open line of communication can save you significant trouble and conflict. Perhaps your child’s other parent is going through genuine financial struggles and can’t pay the designated amount of support right now. In this case, you can work out a new child support plan that fits their current financial situation.
However, if your co-parent simply denies their child’s right to financial support, a child support attorney can:
- Help you file an enforcement action in a Texas family law court
- Promote your case and work to help you receive child support more quickly
- Negotiate with your co-parent to work out a solution for owed and future child support payments
- Explore legal venues to force a non-cooperative parent to pay child support, like wage garnishment, tax refund interception, or liens against real property
Kimbrough Legal, PLLC: Child Support Lawyers Protecting Children, Assets, and Peace in Austin, TX
Does your co-parent violate the child support guidelines in your court order? Our skilled and experienced family lawyers are here to protect your rights and represent your child’s best interests. We can help you renegotiate a payment plan with your co-parent or pursue enforcement action through a Texas family law court.
The information in this blog post (“post”) is provided for general informational purposes only and may not reflect the current law in your jurisdiction. No information in this post should be construed as legal advice from the individual author or the law firm, nor is it intended to be a substitute for legal counsel on any subject matter. No reader of this post should act or refrain from acting based on any information included in or accessible through this post without seeking the appropriate legal or other professional advice on the particular facts and circumstances at issue from a lawyer licensed in the recipient’s state, country or other appropriate licensing jurisdiction.
Kimbrough Legal, PLLC
5920 W. William Cannon Dr., Bldg 3, Ste 400
Austin, TX 78749