Can I Pause Child Support Arrears?

Understanding what child support arrears mean is pivotal, particularly in the context of divorce or child custody cases. These arrears denote past-due child support payments, representing a critical aspect of family law proceedings. Whether you鈥檙e the payer or recipient of child support, comprehending this term is essential. It signifies the accumulation of unpaid support, which can have significant implications for both parties and the well-being of the child involved.

As long as you make payments on time and in full, child support operates smoothly. Typically, courts order child support amounts as part of child custody or divorce cases. Often those orders begin in the temporary orders phase of a case. Paying child support can take some adjustment for a family. Therefore, courts incorporate the temporary order segment of a family law case. This helps your family adjust to the process of paying and receiving child support. Let鈥檚 spend some time discussing that subject in greater detail.

How is child support calculated?

Child support typically is a calculation based on one parent鈥檚 net monthly income. Wages, salary, commissions, rental income, unemployment insurance payments, and other types of payments like these go towards calculating net monthly income. If you are going through a family law case and are concerned that you may be leaving something out as far as your Co parent鈥檚 income is concerned, you should address that with your attorney. Through the discovery process, you can often inquire about multiple streams of income that your Co-parent may be earning but unaware of.

Otherwise, the calculation of child support is fairly straightforward. The court will assess a percentage of your Co-parent鈥檚 net monthly income, starting at 20% for one child. In typical cases, the court may allocate up to 50% of your Co-parent鈥檚 net monthly income for child support. If your co-parent is financially responsible for other children, the court may adjust the support percentage for your children, reducing the amount they receive.

What happens once child support is calculated?

After calculating child support, the next concern is how to transfer it from your Co-parent to your bank account. Many parents assume they will make payments directly to each other, either by writing a check or paying in cash. However, as you are about to see, this is not the recommended method of paying child support.

Rather, the only way to get official credit for making child support payments is if the payments flow through the office of the attorney general child support division. The Child Support division of the Texas Attorney general鈥檚 office is the state body that administers child support payments. The judge from your child custody or divorce case will sign off on a wage withholding order. This order allows the attorney general鈥檚 office to receive money directly from your employer each month to fulfill your child support obligation.

Streamlining Child Support Orders: The Role of Attorneys

Suppose you are the parent receiving child support; you and your attorney need to have an order prepared after your divorce or child custody case. Typically what the attorneys with our office will do is that we will submit a wage withholding order for a client on the same day that we are seeking to prove up or finalized the final order in a custody or divorce case. This method allows the judge to review all documents at once. It helps them identify any additional information needed before concluding the case.

The wage withholding order lists your spouse or co-parent鈥檚 employer鈥檚 name and the exact amount to withhold each month for child support. As circumstances may change, it is up to you and your Co-parent to update this wage withholding order. If you have questions about this situation, you should contact an attorney with the Law Office of Bryan Fagan. We can talk to you about how your child鈥檚 needs may change over time and what you should do if you need to update a wage withholding order or even have one terminated after your child support paying the obligation.

Monitoring Child Support Usage: Accountability and Transparency

The attorney general鈥檚 child support division will channel the Child Support payments directly into your Co-parent鈥檚 bank account. Your Co-parent will then have the discretion to use the Child Support as they see fit. Clients often ask if there is a way to track how the support money is spent or to hold the co-parent accountable for misuse.

Depending on your viewpoint, it may be unfortunate. But, there is no system to audit the spending of child support payments. In such cases, you must largely trust that your co-parent is using the funds responsibly. However, if they spend the money irresponsibly, they cannot demand more from you. This is unless they succeed in modifying the Child Support order.

Additionally, your Co-parent cannot withhold Visitation or possession of your children from you if you failed to make child support payments as agreed to or as ordered.

Beware: Direct Child Support Payments May Not Count

I will mention that you do not get credit for direct payment of child support to a Co-parent. I realized that writing a cheque or giving cash to your Co-parent may seem easier than going through the trouble of abiding by a wage withholding order or website payments through an attorney general. Still, you run the risk of not having these payments count. For example, theoretically, your Co-parent could allege to a family court judge that you failed to pay child support if the payments do not go through the attorney general鈥檚 office. This puts you in a position where you may have to defend yourself even if you made payments in full and on time, just not through the attorney general鈥檚 office.

On the bright side, by making payments through the attorney general鈥檚 office, your Co-parent would not be able to argue that payments were missed or made partially successfully. The reason being is that there is a barely straightforward way for you to check on payments by looking at the website for you and your Co-parent. In plain numbers, teen payments made in child support are laid out for everyone to see. From there, it is easy to determine what amounts of child support have been ordered and what amounts of child support have been received in full.

What could cause child support to be paid late or not paid at all?

Even though child support has a much more Noble intent attached to it, we can look at the payment of child support much like any other bill or obligation as far as finances are concerned. There are a host of reasons why child support could go unpaid or underpaid this month. The reality is that most Americans black an emergency fund or money set aside to pay for issues that come out of the blue. So, something as simple as a car repair could result in your child support payment coming late during the month.

Balancing Child Support and Immediate Needs

Your Co-parent could figure that they could not get to work without a car and pay child support anyway. Therefore, it is justified to pay for child support later and pay for the car now. These are realities that families face on an everyday basis. Especially after the year, we have just experienced, as far as unexpected occurrences are concerned, it is not out of the ordinary to see child support payments missed for various reasons.

The most significant reason child support payments might be missed is typically due to job loss. Many parents must budget their monthly expenses, including child support, alongside their other responsibilities. If your Co-parent were to lose their job or have their hours cut back, this could impact their ability to pay child support. As I mentioned a moment ago, even their child support is nobler than the cable bill; the same thing can happen with child support payments in the event of a job loss. Cuts to a person鈥檚 budget need to happen when they lose their job, and child support may be a casualty of that reality.

Strategies for Coping with Unexpected Setbacks

The real question that we need to be asking ourselves is, what can you do when an incident like this happens to your family? If your parent runs into some financial difficulties, is there anything your family can do to prevent either running into extreme financial issues on a short-term basis because of the inability to pay? The second question would be, what can your family do to avoid filing a lawsuit to ensure proper child support payment?

The most obvious solution to this problem that I can think of would be to make sure you have money in reserve if you have a reduction in pay, hours or lose your job outright. Losing your job is not an excuse for not paying child support. At the same time, it is understandable that losing your job would mean having difficulty paying child support, which in and of itself does not absolve you from paying child support. A trip to the courthouse to listen to enforcement cases on child support will cause you to learn that a person is responsible for paying child support regardless of their finances. If a court order says you have to pay child support, then that is what you have to do.

The Importance of a Rainy Day Fund for Child Support

Maintaining a rainy day fund is crucial, especially if you pay child support. The potential consequences of failing to meet child support obligations make establishing a financial safety net a wise decision. By setting aside a few dollars each month while employed, you ensure the availability of necessary funds for child support during a month-long income drop. Losing your job requires immediate and upfront communication with both the attorney general and your co-parent.

Proactively discussing any child support payment issues with your co-parent can help prevent an enforcement lawsuit. Generally, if you keep your co-parent informed about child support matters, they are less likely to pursue immediate legal action for a missed payment. Conversely, surprising them by failing to pay without prior communication and lacking a cooperative co-parenting relationship increases the likelihood of facing an enforcement lawsuit.

How can you recover past-due child support?

If back child support begins to pile up, there are several ways for you to enforce The Child Support order to recover the money owed to you. For example, you can issue child support lien notices to banks where your co-parent holds an account.聽You and your attorney can work with the court to freeze a bank account to ensure proper payment.

Enforcing Child Support Orders: Using Liens on Property

You may also enforce your child support order by putting a lien on your Co-parent鈥檚 real estate or personal property. Placing a lien on property ensures that you have an enforceable interest in that property if it gets sold. It is even possible to seize personal property or real estate for sale if the child support arrears are large enough.

Surprisingly, the government can seize your co-parent鈥檚 federal tax refunds to cover unpaid child support. The IRS checks for any owed child support and can withhold refunds to pay off the debt. The attorney general may assist you with this, as would an experienced family law attorney.

Additionally, authorities can deny or withhold your co-parent鈥檚 licenses, including driver鈥檚, professional, hunting, fishing, and passport renewals, if they owe child support. Again, these are types of relief you would need to seek from the court in your enforcement case. The family court judge would assess the situation and make it a termination about what types of relief are possible and most readily fix the situation you find yourself in.

To enforce a child support order, authorities can send your co-parent to jail for failing to pay back child support. This severe step applies if your co-parent persistently refuses to pay a significant amount of child support. While the court may order jail time, they might also grant deferred adjudication, allowing the individual to work and begin paying off the overdue support.


Grasping the significance of what child support arrears mean is crucial in navigating family law matters, especially divorce or child custody cases. These arrears signify unpaid child support, serving as a pivotal aspect in ensuring the welfare of the child and upholding legal obligations. Whether you find yourself in the position of the payer or recipient, understanding this term empowers you to navigate the complexities of family law proceedings with clarity and awareness. By addressing child support arrears proactively and in accordance with legal guidelines, both parties can work towards ensuring the best interests of the child and fostering a fair resolution to their financial support needs.

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