August 16, 2022
Child support is a contribution of money to help cover the basic needs of a child, such as food, housing, clothing, and medical care. The Texas Office of the Attorney General (OAG) is the agency that handles child support orders - and they take not paying child support seriously. They can take many actions to enforce child support when it is not paid. This article will discuss child support laws in Texas and what you need to know about failure to pay child support, whether you pay support or receive it.
The OAG can order either parent or both parents to pay child support. In a typical scenario, the parent who spends the least amount of time with a child will receive a court order for child support. However, if the child lives with a grandparent or other relative and they have custody, both parents may have a legal obligation to pay child support. The standard formula is straightforward:
Child support laws in Texas allow for courts to take unique circumstances into consideration when establishing orders. However, once child support is ordered, the parent is obligated to make them. The OAG may take enforcement action if a parent refuses to pay child support. The Texas OAG urges any parent having a hard time paying child support to let them know as soon as possible.
We are often asked, “do you have to go to court for child support?”. The answer is no. Child support can be established through the OAG. However, child support is often - but not always - arranged as part of divorce or separation proceedings via a family law attorney - with support payments beginning on a start date designated in the divorce decree.
Child support payments are completely separate from visitation, and parents or guardians may not withhold visitation for the failure of a mother or father not paying child support. Whether or not a divorce occurs, a Dallas family lawyer can be helpful in getting child custody and child support established or modified.
Texas courts recommend that custodial parents go through the OAG for child support enforcement. This is the best step to take because the OAG has resources that courts do not. However, the OAG can have a high volume of cases, and additional legal support from a family law attorney or child custody lawyer may be beneficial in the interest of results and time.
The legal process of child support may be confusing or feel overwhelming, but it is important for providing financial, medical, and dental support for children. The first step to getting an order and enforcing it is establishing paternity. For some families, this step may feel “extreme” but it is necessary in case the father changes his mind, becomes disabled and receives state benefits, or dies. Established paternity can allow a child to receive a possible inheritance as well as other benefits, like social security, life insurance, and veteran’s benefits.
Mothers, fathers, grandparents, and others may be able to apply for child support through the OAG. Once paternity is established (for fathers) and an order is in place, intentionally or knowingly failing to provide for a child is known as criminal nonsupport. However, even in cases of clear nonpayment, many parents are unclear about what to do when child support is not being paid or how to report someone not paying child support in Texas.
Texas also has an Evaders hotline 1-866-EVADERS - available to provide tips about child support evaders (sometimes referred to in Texas as deadbeat dads or deadbeat moms). Only parents who owe more than $5000 in past due child support and have had an arrest warrant issued qualify. Those in the Evaders program will have their name, photograph, and amount of back child support listed on the Attorney General of Texas evaders web page. This is a public page identifying a list of parents who owe child support in Texas.
A Texas family law attorney can file a child support order to enforce child payments through the Texas court system via an enforcement suit - giving a judge the option of finding a non-custodial parent in contempt of court and issuing either a fine or an arrest warrant. This is an effective way to report someone not paying child support in Texas and may hold the non-custodial parent accountable for paying support, regardless of the reasons why child support is late (incarceration, job loss, etc.)
If you would like to speak with a lawyer about what to do when child support is not being paid, your legal rights, and options when child support is late, the dedicated family law attorneys at Brooks & Radchenko are here for you.
Custodial parents and grandparents with support orders often ask how to get child support if the father is not working. Under federal law, if a parent owes back child support, a federal or state child support enforcement office can intercept tax refunds to apply to owed child support.
Texas, like all other states, will report overdue child support to the Treasury Department. The IRS, in turn, will take a tax refund and give it to the state child support agency to pay the custodial parent. This intercept program also applied to the first round of COVID-19 stimulus payments. To see if you are on the Treasury Offset List, you can call the IRS at 1-800-304-3107. You will also receive a notice of proposed tax refund seizure before your refund is seized.
Although Texas does not have state tax (because they do not assess an income tax), many states that assess income tax have intercept programs. These state tax intercept programs are similar to Federal intercept programs.
Tax refunds are only helpful in child support when the non-custodial parent (1) files a tax return and (2) is entitled to a tax refund. However, even then, the state will be paid back for any drawn public assistance during times of child support not being paid off. Additionally, if the non-custodial parent owes other debts, like federal student loans or federal income tax, these may be paid first with refund money.
If a co-parent has managed to avoid paying child support, you may be able to request retroactive child support be ordered, for up to four years preceding the petition. Retroactive amounts may be based on whether the parent was aware of their obligations, and the number of net resources available.
In some cases, retroactive child support may be paid for a period of more than four years if the parent knew of their obligations and intentionally did not pay. The court will consider if the parent can afford to pay it and whether it is in the best interests of the child.
Missed child support payments will not go away and the court has some actions they can take against you. If you were not able to make a child support payment, you should:
If your circumstances changed, such as losing employment, you may be able to obtain a modification in your support order.
Texas is serious about child support orders, but it may be challenging to navigate the system in any time-effective manner without an attorney advocating for you. The family law attorneys at Brooks & Radchenko offer highly personalized results-focused legal representation. We advocate for individuals and families in all aspects of child support matters, including orders, enforcement, and modification. To see how you can benefit from our knowledgeable and resourceful attorneys, contact us today to arrange a free case evaluation.
It does not provide legal advice. The scenarios described in this website are intended to demonstrate legal principles involved with representation in the type of case described. Any current or former clients quoted or specifically identified in these materials have reviewed the firm on a third-party website or platform, such as Google, without compensation. Every legal case is different. Specific past results are not indicative of specific future results. Any information contained herein pertaining to experience or familiarity with particular courts or government agencies should not be construed as an ability or willingness to exert improper influence over the legal system. All services described in these materials and provided by Radchenko and
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