If you were awarded child support from a non-custodial parent after a divorce or paternity action, you understand that support payments are critical to covering your child’s basic living expenses, including costs associated with health care, food, clothing, transportation, and other needs. When one parent fails to make these payments, they not only fail to provide for their child, but also violate a court order.
In Texas, both parents have an obligation to provide for their child’s care and well-being, regardless of whether they are married or not. As such, court-ordered child support becomes essential in ensuring that both parents – including the non-custodial parent – contribute to their child’s basic needs. If your ex-spouse or the parent of your child has failed to make child support payments, there are steps you can take to ensure your child is provided for.
- Communication – While communication may not seem like a viable option for some, it is worth the effort to resolve issues outside of the courtroom whenever possible. Try speaking with your ex about missed or delayed child support payments. You may discover there are extenuating circumstances or that they are committed to making good faith compromises to get current on payments. Informing them of the possibility of taking action may also ensure future payments are made on time. In some cases, mediation may be an effective option for seeking compromise and resolutions, such as modifications of existing support orders, that ensure a non-custodial spouse is able to meet their obligations.
- Enforcement in Family Court – When non-custodial parents become delinquent on child support orders, custodial parents may file enforcement actions with the court. Child support orders in Texas, whether issued as part of divorce settlements or not, contain provisions regarding potential consequences for failing to abide by their terms. This includes withholding federal tax refunds and garnishing wages to ensure payments are made. An experienced attorney can help you navigate these proceedings.
- State Enforcement – The state of Texas provides assistance with enforcing child support orders through the Child Support Division of the Texas Attorney General’s Office. This includes assistance with not only enforcing support orders, but also help locating absent parents, coordination with other states if a parent moves out of Texas, filing property liens, and collecting past support and accrued interest. In some cases, non-payors may also face penalties such as suspension of a professional or business license, driver’s license revocation, or even terms of imprisonment.
- Follow Court Orders – Even when a non-custodial parent is delinquent on child support payments, custodial parents must remember that they too must abide by any custody orders, including terms of parenting time and visitation. You cannot withhold visitation due to missed payments.