As part of your divorce, you and your ex were given a court-ordered arrangement, and a significant part of that decision was probably child support payments. Many parents are dependent on this money from their ex to help them provide for their child. So when the party who is responsible to make child support payments doesn’t pay, the result can often be a financial and emotional strain.
Your spouse hasn’t paid, and you want to make things right. So what can you do? There are a few options for parents in The State of Texas with child support in arrears (which is a fancy word for “past due”). There are also some ideas you may have considered but are probably best to avoid carrying out.
What Not to Do if Your Ex is Late on Child Support Payments
Your electrical bill is due, you’re behind on your rent and you can’t afford to buy groceries. You are struggling to make ends meet and it’s all because your child’s other parent failed to do their part and pay their child support. Why should they be able to see their child if they can’t be bothered to help cover their expenses?
Child support and visitation rights are considered separate issues by the courts of Texas. It is a common misunderstanding [link to the last article – common misunderstandings in divorce] that the two are related. So instead of withholding visitation from your ex, which could potentially get you in trouble as well, contact your divorce attorney so they can work with the courts and help guide you through your child support issues.
Steps to Take if Your Ex is Behind on Child Support
It may not seem fair that your ex is able to see your children when they aren’t supporting them, but you are not completely without options. Your divorce attorney can go back to court and file an enforcement action. This means your attorney is asking the judge to make the delinquent parent follow the child support order and make the required payments.
A judge may then decide to fine or jail the delinquent parent for “contempt of court” for disobeying the court order to pay child support. The court may also require the delinquent parent to pay part of the outstanding child support to be released from jail.
How the State of Texas Collects Past-Due Child Support
Sometimes it’s not as easy as going into court to recoup overdue child support payments. In this case, the assistance of the State of Texas Child Support Division may be needed.
The Texas Child Support Division has a powerful set of legal and financial tools available to them to help them obtain payment from parents who are past due in child support. These tools, also listed on their website, might include:
- Working with other states to collect child support if the paying parent has moved out of the state of Texas.
- Filing liens against the paying parent’s property and assets, such as their house, land or cars.
- Suspending their driver’s license, as well as any professional licenses, certificates, fish and game licenses they may have.
- Intercepting lottery winnings, federal income tax refunds, and other state or federal money the parent may receive.
- Requiring the parent’s employer to deduct child support directly from their paychecks. This is also called wage withholding.
If you have questions about how to proceed, or need guidance dealing with an ex who is past due in child support, contact our office in Fort Worth and we’ll help walk you through the process.