A woman looking into what happens if her former spouse does not pay child support in Texas

What Happens if You Don’t Pay Child Support in Texas?

Children deserve love and support from both parents, and Texas considers the financial capabilities of each parent in creating child support orders. There are, however, a number of unexpected or unforeseen circumstances that can cause a parent to be unable to make their support payments.

If you’re in this situation, you might ask, “What happens if you don’t pay child support in Texas?” First and foremost, you should continue to make payments to the best of your ability. Secondly, the law has a system that allows you to ask the court for a child support modification in certain circumstances, but this effort requires compelling evidence.

Because child support is a serious legal matter, we highly recommend that any Texas parent facing issues related to child support payments should seek the help of a family law attorney. Learn more about how to support your situation.

Do you need immediate support with a child support matter in Texas? Please contact our local family law attorneys right away.

What is Texas Child Support – And Why Is It a Serious Matter?

Texas child support is money paid by a non-custodial parent to help the custodial parent with the cost of raising a child. The custodial parent is usually the person that the child lives with most of the time, while the non-custodial parent has visitation rights.

Texas Law recognizes the custodial parent as the one who covers most of the costs associated with supporting a child, which is why the non-custodial parent is often ordered to pay child support payments.

Parents are legally obligated to financially support their children, as outlined in a court order stemming from a divorce or other child support-related matter. These orders are usually effective until the child turns 18 or graduates from high school (whichever happens later), but child support payments may last longer if your child has a disability.

The state of Texas takes child support seriously to ensure the well-being and fair treatment of children. This emphasis is rooted in the idea that children deserve financial stability for their needs, education, and healthcare. By enforcing child support orders, Texas encourages parental responsibility and ensures the financial burden of raising a child is distributed equally between parents.

What if You Can’t Afford Your Child Support Payments?

Texas utilizes strict enforcement tools – including wage garnishment and other penalties – to ensure compliance and prevent parents from failing to pay child support.

The Office of the Attorney General typically enforces child support obligations, so if a parent cannot meet the child support responsibilities, the Attorney General may take certain steps to enforce a court order. Some of these actions may include the following:

  • Suspending the parent’s driver’s license.
  • Denying a passport application or renewal.
  • Placing a lien on the parent’s property, bank account, personal injury claims, and other assets.

For these reasons, if you’re required to pay child support and you can’t make the payments, you should take whatever steps necessary to rectify the situation. And, if you have experienced “a material and substantial change in circumstances,” you can attempt to modify the child support order.

If you believe you are entitled to a modification, you should pursue this option as soon as possible with the support of a family law attorney. That way, you can avoid having to face any potential consequences.

Is There a Way to Reduce Your Child Support Payments?

Texas Law has guidelines for determining the amount of child support payments. It will often depend on the number of children you have, your regular income, and the value of your net resources (e.g. tax refunds, lottery winnings, and other assets). However, the Texas Family Code does make provision for when circumstances can change.

A parent’s income can increase or decrease, affecting monthly payments. A parent might be going through a job loss or may have another child to support – both of which can affect their ability to make the required child support payments.

In Texas, parents cannot decide to change a child support obligation independently. A parent will have to go to court and request a modification. They can ask the court to reduce the amount they’re required to pay or request an increase in the amount they receive.

In these situations, the court may choose to modify the child support payment if a parent can prove that there has been a significant change in circumstances. The courts may consider the following criteria to evaluate the situation:

  • A parent has involuntarily lost a job.
  • A parent has suffered or is suffering from a long-term health condition.
  • The parent paying child support has become financially responsible for additional children.
  • The custodial parent has re-married – or plans to re-marry.
  • There has been a change in the child custody arrangement.

A modification may also be possible if the current child support order is at least three years old, and the amount the paying spouse owes would change by $100 or 20% if a new order were drafted. However, this method is typically unavailable to parents who agreed to a child support order different from what’s specified in those guidelines.

How Can You Enforce a Child Support Order?

Perhaps you’re on the other side of the coin as a parent who wants to enforce a child support order because of non-compliance from the other parent. In this situation, you should seek the help of a family law attorney.

Non-custodial parents must continue to abide by the terms of a child support order until the court makes a ruling. Otherwise, they will be subject to a violation.

Do not feel like you have to deal with the other spouse’s delayed or non-payments on your own. You can go through the court system to enforce a child support order. The key is having strong evidence to prove your case if you want to enforce an order.

Let’s Talk About What Happens If You Don’t Pay Child Support in Texas

Whether you are concerned about not being able to pay child support or need help enforcing a child support order, our Texas family law attorneys can help.

We understand that every situation is different, which is why we offer personalized family law support to address your specific needs. We work with parents case-by-case to help you achieve your goals.

We currently support clients in Fort Bend County, Brazoria County, Galveston County, and Matagorda County. If you live in one of these counties, call our offices ​​to discuss your child support situation.

You can reach us at 979-267-7660 (Angleton office) or 281-944-5485 (Sugar Land office) to speak with an experienced family law attorney. Let’s review what happens if you don’t pay child support in Texas so that you better understand the situation.

To help you resolve child support issues, be sure to contact Parker & Aguilar today.