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Understanding Child Support Enforcement in Texas

In a perfect world, unmarried or divorced parents would always make timely payments on child support. Unfortunately, this is not always the case. Sometimes, the paying parent will refuse to make payments for a variety of reasons. For those Texas residents who rely on child support payments, this can prove to be a trying turn of events. Thankfully, there are ways to enforce child support when a spouse refuses to pay.

Courts are very stern when it comes to child support. They will strictly enforce it. Once a payer starts to fall behind on payments, that payer will be considered to be in arrears. At this point, the payer can request a child support modification if the monthly payments prove to be too much to handle. However, the modification will only apply to future payments; they cannot be modified retroactively.

Enforcement of child support payments will be pursued from the supporting parent regardless of where they live. If the parent has moved to another state, the states are cooperative with one another when it comes to child support enforcement. The payments must be made no matter what.

In the case of a spouse refusing to pay, divorced spouses can make use of the 1984 Child Support Enforcement Act. This imbues district attorneys with the power to help in collecting child support from an unpaying party. This usually takes the form of serving the ex-spouse with papers. In these papers, guidelines to meet with the district attorney are often enclosed. Failing to meet with the district attorney will often result in jail time. However, jail is not always the best answer, as it can mean that the ex-spouse will be unable to earn money and thus will not be able to meet their payments.

A parent who is behind in the payments or outright refuses to pay might have to deal with the following:

  • Wage garnishment
  • Garnishment of federal tax income refunds
  • Garnishment of lottery winnings
  • Interception of other money that the person receives
  • Liens against property and assets
  • Suspension of licenses
  • Filings of lawsuits

License suspension is an effective method to get a delinquent parent to pay. This can apply not just to driver’s licenses, but to professional licenses or hunting licenses. The license suspension will commence if the parent is more than three months behind on payments. If a person needs a license to work – such as a law, medical or dental license – it can severely affect the ability to earn a living if these are suspended. There are 60 agencies that issue licenses and all might be involved in issuing a suspension for failure to pay child support.

The Attorney General’s office will match licenses with those who have failed to make their payments and issue a warning that the license suspension is pending. The parent is given a chance to make good on the payments to avoid the suspension.

Finding out what the best move is when an ex-spouse refuses to pay child support can be a difficult task. It is not one people have to decide on alone — attorneys are available to assist with every step of the process. Contact Verner Brumley Mueller Parker!