What Happens if You Do Not Pay Child Support in Texas?

Little boy holding adult's hand

If you were ordered to pay child support after a Texas divorce, but you cannot or do not want to continue making payments to the other parent, you may wonder, “What happens if I do not pay?”

Non-payment of child support can result in severe consequences and legal trouble for the delinquent payor. If you do not pay child support, the other parent can seek enforcement of the support order and find you in contempt of court.

If you are no longer able to pay child support because your circumstances have changed or you do not want to make the payments because the other parent withholds child visitation, consult with a Lampasas County divorce attorney to discuss your options.

The Other Parent Can Enforce the Child Support Order if You Do Not Pay

If you do not pay child support, the other parent can file a complaint with the Texas Office of the Attorney General (OAG). The agency can enforce child support orders when the payor fails to pay.

If the payor does not pay child support, the OAG can take several enforcement actions against them, including:

  1. Suspend the payor’s driver’s license until they repay the debt;

  2. Prohibit the payor from renewing their passport until the debt is paid in full;

  3. Place a lien on the payor’s property until they repay the missed child support payments; and

  4. Report the delinquent payor to a credit bureau agency to lower their credit score.

In most cases, the OAG prefers enforcement actions that help the payor pay off child support in arrears whenever possible.

The recipient does not necessarily have to complain to the OAG to enforce the child support order. They can also file an enforcement court case against the delinquent parent to seek overdue payments.

To enforce a child support order over the payor’s non-payment, the recipient would have to file an enforcement action with the court that issued the order. The court can take the following enforcement actions against the delinquent payor who fails or refuses to pay child support:

  1. Order to repay missed child support payments in addition to attorney’s fees associated with the enforcement case;

  2. Direct the payor to find gainful employment if they cannot pay child support due to unemployment;

  3. Order the payor to obtain counseling on financial planning; or

  4. Find the delinquent payor in contempt of court, which is punishable by fines and jail time.

If the recipient filed an enforcement action with the court or complaint with the OAG, do not hesitate to contact a skilled attorney to represent your interests and learn about your options.

What to Do if I Missed a Child Support Payment?

Missing a child support payment is not the end of the world as long as you have a legitimate reason for non-payment. If you failed to make a child support payment on time, it is generally a good idea to contact the other parent and explain why you missed the payment.

If you cannot pay due to a substantial change in circumstances, you should work with an attorney to request a modification pursuant to Texas Family Code § 156.401. In Texas, any of the following may be considered a material and substantial change in circumstances for a modification case:

  • The payor lost their job and cannot become gainfully employed again;

  • The payor’s income has increased or decreased;

  • The payor is now legally responsible for other children; or

  • The supported child’s medical insurance coverage has changed.

As soon as you know that you will not be able to make a payment, you should contact a lawyer to help you modify the child support order. Your attorney will help you understand whether or not you have grounds to request a modification.

If you know that you will miss the upcoming payment, cooperating with the recipient and the Texas Office of the Attorney General is a better alternative to evading child support payments and refusing to find a mutually beneficial resolution.

Should I Still Pay Child Support if the Other Parent Withholds Visitation?

Sometimes, the custodial parent may refuse to let you see the child or otherwise withhold visitation. In that situation, should you continue making child support payments? Or do you have a good reason for not paying child support?

If the other parent withholds visitation, you cannot simply refuse or fail to pay child support. Instead, you should try to work with the custodial parent to resolve the situation. If the other parent is uncooperative and refuses to allow visitation in compliance with the custody order, you may have grounds to pursue an enforcement action asking the court to:

  1. Punish the custodial parent for interfering with your child visitation; and

  2. Enforce the existing custody order.

Once the judge evaluates your situation, they will render the appropriate decision and sanctions to ensure that you can visit your child without the other parent’s interference.

Refusing to pay child support or any other attempts to punish the custodial parent for withholding visitation could make the situation worse. The judge will not look favorably at your attempts to withhold payments, not to mention that non-payment of child support could potentially harm your child.

Consult with an attorney to determine the best course of action if the other parent refuses to let you see your kids. You could potentially enforce the custody order to obtain access to your children.

Contact a Lampasas County Divorce Attorney Today

If you cannot pay child support for whatever reason, it is advisable to speak with an experienced attorney to explore your options. Not paying child support can have very serious consequences, including being held in contempt of court.

That is why you need to act quickly as soon as you know that you will not be able to make the upcoming payment on time. Talk to our knowledgeable child support attorneys at The Law Office of Brett H. Pritchard to discuss your particular situation. Call 254-501-4040 today.

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