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How Can a Child Support Order Be Enforced in Texas?

Under Texas law, a parent who does not have custody of a minor child is required to pay monthly support to meet the daily needs of that child. Child support orders are enforced by family law courts. Enforcing a support order, however, is not always easy and can involve a variety of legal remedies that sometimes involve law enforcement agencies. Any parent who fails to obey the terms of a child support order, for example, can be held in contempt of court. The parent could then be punished with a fine or even incarceration.

A parent can face a fine of up to $500 or be sent to jail for no more than 180 days for contempt. He or she can also face penalties for constructive contempt if any visitation orders were violated. When a parent who is supposed to pay child support has failed to comply with a court order, the custodial parent can seek enforcement of an order by filing a motion with the court to have the court’s order enforced. This order can affect not only child support but also the noncustodial parent’s access to his or her child, including visitation and conservatorship.

A parent’s motion for child support enforcement must clearly outline what kind of punitive action should take place against the violator. The punishment sought can be civil or criminal. The motion also must reference the amount of money specified in the original order, the amount that has been paid up to the time of the enforcement request and the amount of the existing overdue support.

An enforcement request must mention the alleged violations of the court’s order and the dates on which they took place. Because enforcement is often tricky if a noncustodial parent has decided to avoid paying at all costs, a custodial parent may consider retaining an attorney who can use all available legal means to get the supporting parent to pay what is owed.

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