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How Do You Enforce Child Support?

How Do You Enforce Child Support in Texas?

Child support plays a crucial role in ensuring the well-being and financial stability of children whose parents have separated or divorced. In Texas, like in many other jurisdictions, there are specific laws and procedures in place to enforce child support orders. On this page, we discuss the key steps and mechanisms available to enforce child support in Texas, providing guidance for custodial parents seeking financial support for their children.

  1. Establishing a Child Support Order
  2. Gather Evidence of Communication and Payments
  3. File a Petition to Enforce Child Support
  4. Serve the Other Party With the Petition
  5. The Final Hearing

Navigating the child support enforcement process can be complex and emotionally challenging. If you need help enforcing child support in Texas, don't hesitate to seek legal guidance. Consult with an experienced family law attorney who can help you understand your rights, provide representation, and take appropriate action. Ensure the financial stability of your children – contact us now!

Step One: Establishing a Child Support Order

Before enforcement measures can be pursued, it is essential to have a child support order in place signed by a judge. This order typically results from divorce proceedings or through separate legal actions. An informal agreement regarding child support payments without a court order cannot be enforced.

Further, the best way to make sure your child support payments are kept track of is to request the payments either be withheld directly from the noncustodial parents’ paycheck or paid through the Office of the Attorney General’s Child Support State Disbursement Unit. Involving the Office of the Attorney General will take the pressure off of you to keep track of the child support payments and will make it easier to enforce the order if necessary.

Step Two: Gather Evidence of Communication and Payments

Documenting payments, communications about payments, and any other evidence that may go to the child support non-payment is important. Examples of this include bank statements, text messages showing a refusal to pay, and anything showing the noncustodial parent not contributing in any other way to the children.

If your child support order requires payment be made through the Office of the Attorney General, you can go online and see and download the payment record. Each time the noncustodial parent did not pay all or part of their child support, it is considered a violation.

Step Three: File a Petition to Enforce Child Support

A Petition to Enforce Child Support is the most crucial part of the enforcement process because if it is not drafted correctly, you may not get the relief you are requesting from the court.

Therefore, make sure you have all the necessary provisions in the petition such as the correct name of the noncustodial parent, an accurate description of every violation, and what you are asking the court to do specifically. You must also attach the evidence of non-payment such as the payment record from the Office of the Attorney General or a table showing the payment record and amount in arrears.

Step Four: Serve the Other Party With the Petition

You will have to also set your enforcement for a hearing and give the other side proper notice of the suit and the date of the final hearing. Proper service in an enforcement is extremely important since the punishment for nonpayment of child support could include jail time, suspension of licenses, and seizure of property.

If you're having trouble locating the noncustodial parent, the Office of the Attorney General can attempt to do so. Make sure you have as much of the following information as possible:

  • Parent's name and current address (or last known);
  • Name and address of parent's current employer;
  • Social Security number and date of birth;
  • Names and addresses of relatives and friends;
  • Names of banks or creditors;
  • Names of organizations, unions, clubs, etc. to which the noncustodial parent belongs; and
  • Places where the noncustodial parent spends their time.

Step Five: The Final Hearing

To prepare for the final hearing, make sure you have all your evidence and the proof of service. You must also make sure you have followed the court’s requirements for exhibits. In the final hearing, you will have to prove the child support was not paid to you.

The result might be an order holding the noncustodial parent in contempt and an award of attorney’s fees.

If the noncustodial parent has violated an order for child support many times, more drastic measures such as the below tactics may be used:

  • Liens and Seizure of Property: If the noncustodial parent fails to comply with their child support obligations, the court may authorize the placement of liens on their property or seize their assets. This includes bank accounts, real estate, and other valuable assets. Liens and seizures can be powerful tools to encourage compliance with child support orders.
  • Passport Denial: A noncustodial parent may be denied a new or renewed passport.
  • Income Withholding: One of the most effective methods of enforcing child support in Texas is through income withholding. This involves deducting child support payments directly from the noncustodial parent's wages or other sources of income. Income withholding orders are issued by the court and served to the employer or other payers of income.
  • License Suspension: Texas law allows for the suspension of various licenses held by parents who are delinquent on child support payments. This includes driver's licenses, professional licenses, and recreational licenses. License suspension can serve as a significant incentive for compliance and prompt the payment of child support.
  • Incarceration: If a noncustodial parent repeatedly refuses to pay child support, it is a real possibility that the court will order jail time. The jail time can be up to 6 months in length.

Compliance Hearing

Sometimes the court will set a compliance hearing in the near future to see if the noncustodial parent has complied with the contempt order. If a noncustodial parent consistently refuses to pay child support despite court orders, the custodial parent can file a motion for contempt of court. This legal action requests the court to hold the noncompliant parent accountable for their actions, potentially resulting in fines, penalties, or even imprisonment.

Navigating the child support enforcement process can be complex and emotionally challenging. If you encounter difficulties or require additional guidance, it is wise to consult with an experienced family law attorney. They can help you understand your rights, provide legal representation, and assist in taking appropriate action to enforce child support.

Your children's well-being is at stake. Ensure your children receive the financial support they deserve. Don't wait – act today for their future!

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