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Effects of Not Paying Child Support

When parents divorce, they are still both legally responsible to support their children. When a family court orders a non-custodial parent to pay child support, he or she will typically be subject to income withholding (also sometimes known as “garnishment”). This means that the parent’s employer will be required to deduct the child support from the paying parent’s paycheck. From there, the state disburses the support payments to the custodial parent.

In Texas, parents are required to financially support their children until they turn 18 or graduate high school, whichever comes later. Texas uses a percentage of income model, which can be reduced if the custodial parent is supporting other children from a different relationship.

Child Support Enforcement in Texas

When a child support order is issued through a divorce decree, it is registered with the Office of the Attorney General (OAG), which is the agency responsible for enforcing collection measures for past-due child support. If the non-custodial parent is self-employed or unemployed and failing to pay child support, the OAG will often try to obtain money from the non-custodial parent by using tools available to the state.

Other methods of collecting child support arrears:

  • Judgments
  • Liens against personal property
  • Liens against real estate property
  • Lottery winnings intercept
  • Tax refund intercept
  • Income withholding for current and past-due support

In addition to the above, the non-custodial parent may be held in contempt of court, which can translate into incarceration. The OAG can suspend a parent’s driver’s license and professional license, such as a license to practice law, medicine, or real estate. If the parent owes more than $2,500 in child support, he or she may be denied a U.S. Passport, so the parent cannot travel outside the United States.

Child support does not go away. It cannot be included in bankruptcy and it does not stop being reported on one’s credit after seven years. Even if a child turns 18, the non-custodial parent still owes the money and the OAG can initiate collection measures at any time. There is not statute of limitations for collecting child support.