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Why Ignoring Child Support Obligations is a Bad Idea in Texas

Many of my consults revolve around child support. Sometimes people are coming to see me because they are unable to pay child support.

Other times it is because things had been going well both parents had agreed after child support had established that child support was no longer needed. However, the Court order was never changed and now the parents were arguing and the parent who was supposed to be receiving child support was going after the parent who was ordered to pay child support for the missed payments.

In either of these situations, it is a mistake to ignore a child support order.

The Order is the Order Until it is Changed

When I consult with people regarding their child support obligations probably one of the things you will hear me say is that the Child Support Order is the Order until it is changed. What I mean by this just because your financial situation has changed and you are no longer earning as much as you used to does not automatically change how much you owe each month.

If you are earning less than that is one reason to ask the Court to lower your child support. To change how much you owe involves going back to Court and asking the Judge to reevaluate how much you owe and sign a new Court Order.

The Only Signature Matters is the Judge’s Signature

Sometimes people either come to be worried or excited because they have signed an agreement with their EX in regards to child support. This agreement is even notarized. I then either relieve or disappoint them by telling them it does not matter. It takes more than a signed notarized agreement to change or obligate someone in regard to child support.

There would need:

  1. An open and ongoing case
  2. The agreement would need to meet statutory grounds such as through mediation
  3. That agreement would then need to be reduced to a Court Order
  4. That Court Order would need to be signed by a Judge

Can I ask for Child Reimbursement from the Time I Lost My Job?

Probably not. Under Section 156.401(b) of the Texas Family Code, “A support order may be modified about the amount of support ordered only as to obligations accruing after the earlier of:

  1. the date of service of citation; or
  2. an appearance in the suit to modify

What this means is that the soonest you can ask for a change is from the time you get your EX served with paperwork letting them know you want your child support obligation changed. If you let time go by unless your EX agrees your obligation amount is only changeable as described above.

Child Support Enforcement

In Texas, parents are required to support their children financially until the child reaches the age of 18 or stops attending high school. Texas law provides a variety of solutions for when a parent refuses to comply with the court’s child support order. These options include:

  1. Withholding of Earnings: The court may order that up to 50% of the parent’s take-home pay be withheld
  2. Contempt: If found to be in contempt, the noncompliant parent could face a $500 fine, up to 6 months in prison, or both. This option is usually not available in your support order from a state other than Texas.
  3. Suspension of State Licenses: The court could order that the parent’s driver, professional, and hunting and fishing licenses be suspended
  4. Withholding State Contracts, Grants, and Loans
  5. Monetary Damages
  6. Liens on Property
  7. Levies on Financial Institutions
  8. Passport Sanctions
  9. Credit Bureau Reporting
  10. Child Support being reduced to a Judgment
  11. Qualified Domestic Relations Orders for Child Support

If a parent does not pay child support as ordered by a Court they are at risk of having a court case brought against them and one or more of the above being Ordered against them.

A child support judge can follow you around by showing up in your credit history, preventing you from renewing governmentally issued licenses, and or getting a tax refund.

If you have questions regarding your child support obligation you should seek a Free legal consultation with one of our child support lawyers at the Law Office of Bryan Fagan, PLLC who can tell you your options so that you can decide how to handle them.

Wage Withholding Order

An administrative writ of withholding for delinquent child support does not seek to impose legal liability on the obligor to support his/her children. Instead, it is one of the several methods the Family Code provides as a remedy to secure the performance of a previously adjudicated liability. The Family Code allows an administrative remedy to collect child support when an obligor’s child support is at least one month delinquent.

Child Support Judgment

A child support lien freezes a financial account, but a levy is still required to be able to seize the money in the account. A judgment or administrative determination of child support arrears is required to file a child support levy. Tex. Fam. Code §157.327(a). An administrative determination of child support arrears occurs when the arrearages are determined by an administrative or judicial writ of withholding under Chapter 158 of the Texas Family Code.

Child Support Liens

Under Texas Family Code §157.313, failure to pay child support as ordered may result in a child support lien. A child support lien arises by operation of law when any child support payment is delinquent. Tex. Fam. Code §157.312(d). Every child support payment that is not timely made is a judgment. Tex. Fam. Code §157.261. There is no requirement that you receive a child support cumulative money judgment before filing a child support lien. A child support lien may issue “regardless of whether the amounts have been adjudicated or otherwise determined.” Tex. Fam. Code §157.312(d). A lien can attach to all the property owned by the obligor except a homestead. Tex. Fam. Code §157.317.

Child Support Levy on Financial Institutions

A child support lien freezes a financial account, but a levy is still required to be able to seize the money in the account. A judgment or administrative determination of child support arrears is required to file a child support levy. Tex. Fam. Code §157.327(a). An administrative determination of child support arrears occurs when the arrearages are determined by an administrative or judicial writ of withholding under Chapter 158 of the Texas Family Code.

Suspension of License for Failure to Pay Child Support

Chapter 232 of the Texas Family Code sets out the methods of suspension of a professional, or recreational, license to secure compliance with a court order. License suspension for failure to pay child support may only be obtained if the obligor had previously been allowed to pay the child support arrears and failed to do so. This provision does not apply only to a driver's license. It can apply to any type of license issued by any licensing authority specifically defined in Texas Family Code Section 232.002.

Passport Denial

If you owe $2,500 or more in child support, you are not eligible to receive a U.S. passport. Passport Denial Program was created by the Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Reconciliation Act (PRWORA) of 1996 that is operated under the auspices of the Federal Tax Refund Offset Program.

Credit Bureau Reporting

The state Title IV-D program is authorized to report the names of delinquent support obligors and the amounts of the delinquencies to consumer credit bureaus, subject to appropriate due process protections under which the obligor may contest the amount of the arrearage being reported

Qualified Domestic Relations Orders for Child Support

A “domestic relations order” (DRO) is a court order issued by a state that divides a pension plan and orders that a portion of it be paid to an alternate payee, the child, like child support. The DRO magically becomes “qualified” and is a QDRO when the pension plan administrator accepts that DRO as meeting its requirements and agrees to honor the DRO.

On any retirement plan – whether it is a defined benefit plan (monthly payout type) or defined contribution (401k). It is not necessary for an IRA. If the obligor has no other income, the pension plan provides a regular source, just like an employer’s withholding order.

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Other Articles you may be interested in:

  1. Can my Texas Driver's License Be Suspended for Not paying Child Support?
  2. Child Support Modification in Texas (Part 1)
  3. What do I do if I have overpaid child support in Texas?
  4. Child Custody Basics in Texas
  5. Child Support and College Tuition in Texas
  6. Texas Child Support Appeals
  7. In Texas are Child Support and Visitation Connected?
  8. Texas Child Support – Trust and Annuities
  9. Special Needs Children in Texas Child Support Cases
  10. How to get above guideline child support.
  11. Handling a child support case as the non custodial parent, Part Five
  12. The benefits of hiring an attorney to represent you in a child support case
  13. How to handle child support as the non custodial parent, Part Three
  14. Child Support Payments in Texas: How to Make them and Why

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