A Texas man was recently released from jail after being sent there due to a clerical error. His lawyer says not only should he not have been sent to prison, but the law needs to be changed.
In June 2013, a law passed in Texas that said if an individual is late on child support payments for any reason, even if they pay the bill in full before the court date, they may still be sent to prison for up to six months. In November 2013, the Houston man told a family court judge that he was alerted to the fact that his child support payments to his ex-wife were short. He paid $3,000 in back support payments but, according to the judge, that was not enough, and she sentenced him to six months in jail. He was employed by AT&T, and a monthly wage garnishment was in effect. However, an employee at AT&T withheld the wrong amount each month for several months. The employee testified to this in an affidavit to the court in January.
The father appealed his case, but the appellate court agreed he was in contempt. On June 24, he surrendered to authorities in Harris County. Once there, he was granted a hearing. Since the payments were made in full, the hearing judge ordered the sentence suspended, and the man was released from prison on July 2.
When a non-custodial parent who is paying child support recognizes that support payments are not being withheld properly, as in this case, or they are unable to pay due to a reduction in their income, consulting with an attorney may be beneficial. The attorney may be able to petition the court to reduce the payments or advise them an error has been made.
Source: The Root, “Texas Man Who Overpaid Child Support Is Released From Prison”, Breanna Edwards, July 28, 2014