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Failure to Pay Child Support

Posted by James Victor Esh | Dec 01, 2023

Once a court orders child support, the parent is required by law to pay it. When a parent stops paying it, there are consequences. Of course, many reasons exist why a parent may stop, but if it is because of a substantial change in circumstances, that parent should properly go through the courts to request a modification of child support.  While Texas does not use the term "custodial parent" or "non-custodial parent" in its Statutes.  For the purposes of this article, I use the terms as they are commonly known with the "non-custodial parent" as being the parent with the obligation to pay child support.  

When a Parent Fails to Pay Child Support in Texas

When a parent fails to pay child support, there may be a reason for it. Loss of income, however, is not a valid reason. That said, if the non-custodial parent does lose their job, they can file a motion to modify the child support order. 

Whatever the situation is, when a parent fails to pay child support, that can be stressful on the other parent––especially when they depend on the money for caring for the child. Child support can be used for things like:

  • Costs to maintain the home (e.g., paying utilities)
  • Food
  • Clothing
  • Transportation
  • Public school education expenses
  • Entertainment for the child

When child support payments stop suddenly and aren't paid for any length of time, that can put a serious financial burden on the custodial parent. 

How to Respond to a Parent's Failure to Pay Child Support

How to respond depends on the circumstances of each individual case. Much of it has to do with whether or not a child support order was ever filed.

No Child Support Order

Sometimes, parents come to an agreement about child support. The non-custodial parent will agree to pay a certain amount each month. They come to this agreement without the involvement of the courts, and so a court order is never issued. When the parent fails to pay it, you often do not have a way to make the non-custodial parent pay. A court cannot enforce an order that does not exist. That's why you always want to go through the courts for child support, child custody, and spousal support––it is the only way to protect yourself and your child. Your best bet is to talk to the other parent and try to come to an agreement. If that fails, you should contact a child support lawyer in Texas to file a petition with the court for child support.

Court Order Issued

If you do have a court order, the starting point can still be the same: talk to the other parent and find out what has happened and come up with a plan. If that does not work, contact a lawyer.  A lawyer can explain how you can enforce that child-support order in Court. 

Interstate Issues

If the non-paying parent lives in another state, the Uniform Interstate Family Support Act ("UIFSA") a federal law, allows the custodial parent to collect child support across state lines.  When parties live in different states, the enforcement of orders can get complicated legally.  This article is not geared towards interstate matters and UIFSA. 

Possible Consequences for Failure to Pay Child Support in Corpus Christi

Co-parenting is hard enough when everyone plays by the rules, but when one parent stops, it can be frustrating. 

The penalties may include:

  • Intercepting tax return
  • Suspending driver's license
  • Suspending a professional license
  • Filing a civil contempt order, which could result in jail time or a diversion program

Can a Parent in Texas Stop Visitation if the Other Parent Fails to Pay Support?

Custody and visitation rights are completely separate from child support. One parent cannot prevent a child from visiting with the non-paying parent on the ground of failure to pay child support. Keeping a child from the non-paying parent can create legal problems for the custodial parent. 

About the Author

James Victor Esh

Victor understands the struggles of families.  It is at the core of how he practices.  When a family must be reshaped, he understands the emotional struggle this causes.  He seeks to resolve conflicts in the most efficient way by reaching agreements where they can be made.  When an agreement can'...

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