Recently, the Texas Attorney General’s Child Support Division worked together with officials in Tarrant County to round up a total of 23 parents who had fallen behind on child support payments. The effort reportedly resulted in the arrest of 22 men and one mother. The operation is not an uncommon one in Texas, where they are performed routinely to help keep outstanding warrants down. With over one million parents in Texas paying child support, there are bound to be a certain number of parents who fall behind on payments for one reason or another.
The point of the operation is, say officials, partly to send a strong message that failing to pay child support is something the state takes seriously. Falling behind on child support payments is not something a parent can always help, though. In some cases, a parent’s circumstances change to such a degree that that continuing to pay the same amount of child support is just not feasible without an undue burden.
The consequences of an arrest are nothing to sneeze at. Failing to pay child support can land a parent in jail for up to six months when an arrest on a civil warrant is involved. The money used to release the parent on bond is paid to custodial parents and children.
Officials say that parents can avoid the embarrassment of arrest by turning themselves in, if there is an outstanding warrant, or to contact the Attorney General’s office to make alternative payment arrangements. When a parent works with the Attorney General’s office effort on a modification, they will need to go through a court hearing. This process works is faster than scheduling a court hearing on one’s own, but it works best when both parents agree on the order.
For parents facing a situation where they cannot agree, it may be necessary to hire an attorney who can advocate for their needs.
Source: Star Telegram, “23 Tarrant County parents arrested for failing to pay child support,” July 29, 2013.