Consequences of Non-Payment: Exploring the Realities of Child Support in Texas

Man worried about child support payments

For the courts in Texas, failing to comply with Child Support payments is an intolerable offense, unjustifiable under any circumstances. The law protects minors and looks out for their well-being, prioritizing established orders and legal obligations of both parents to ensure a good upbringing for the children.

For this reason, the non-compliance of these legal obligations may be considered a criminal offense, which can bring multiple and severe consequences for parents who disobey the court order (regardless of the reasons behind not complying with the established payment).

What Happens if I Don't Pay Child Support?

The position the court takes regarding an unpaid Child Support case will depend on factors involving the case, such as the terms established in the current Child Support order or the time and delay of payments. This delay accumulates and becomes Back Child Support or Past Due Child Support. However, prioritizing the rights of minors, failure to pay child support carries serious consequences, which could even lead to a criminal charge with a prison sentence.

Jail Time and Arrest Warrants

Texas Penal Code 25.05 establishes that a person commits the offense of Criminal Nonsupport if it is proven that they intentionally or knowingly fail to make Child Support payments established by the court to their child under 18 years of age. This offense is punishable by imprisonment in a state jail for each late payment, ranging from 6 months to two years, and a maximum fine of $10,000.

The offense is reported to law enforcement if: The other parent seeks government assistance or files a report with authorities. By requesting assistance, the Attorney General issues a lawsuit, which may even lead to your inclusion in the Child Support Evader Program, which can be found on the Texas Attorney General's website, where names are published alongside a photograph of parents who owe more than $5,000 in Child Support and have an arrest warrant.

Spending time in prison or having an arrest warrant by the state is a real possibility for parents who owe child support payments, so having the guidance and supervision of a family lawyer in Texas with knowledge in Child Support cases is the best option to assess your options. Consult with GarciaWindsor how we can assist you.

Other Consequences You May Face if You Owe Child Support Payments Are:

Suspension or Revocation of Licenses

As established by Chapter 232 of the Texas Family Code, any license (such as driver's, commercial, concealed weapon, and hunting or fishing licenses) that the non-custodial parent holds and that has been issued by an agency in the state may be suspended or revoked.

Tax Return and Property Liens

The Child Support office can garnish your state and federal tax refunds, and if there is a judgment against you, even the Attorney General can intercept the money you receive to cover the debt to the custodial parent. This includes any type of money income you have, such as insurance policies, inheritances, lottery winnings, or personal injury settlements. Even if the parent with the Child Support obligation dies, the money can be collected from their estate.

Property and asset liens for child support are common in the state. The Texas Attorney General’s Office applies these garnishments to any type of asset you have, such as properties, bank accounts, retirement plans, and cars. This garnishment will remain in effect until the child support debt you owe is fully paid off.

Your Credit Score Will Be Affected

Credit reporting agencies receive a report from the Texas Attorney General's Office on the payments you have made for child support and the outstanding balances. A late payment will lower your credit score.

You Won't Be Able to Apply for a New or Renewed Passport.

If the parent's child support debt reaches $2,500, they may not be able to apply or qualify to receive a passport in the United States.

Child Support Debt Doesn’t Disappear, It Accumulates.

Many non-custodial parents think or assume that if they had a child support debt, it disappears when the child legally becomes an adult. However, Texas courts may still go after a parent who owes child support regardless of the child's age. Even the debt to be paid can increase over time because the amount of accumulated interest is also added.

A Viable Option to Not Miss Payments: Automatic Withholding Order.

Currently, most Child Support court orders include an Income Withholding Order (IWO). This is sent to the non-custodial parent's employer indicating that they withhold the amount of child support from the paycheck, and that amount is sent directly to the custodial parent.
This process is carried out through the Child Support office.

What Else Can I Do? Learn About Child Support Modification

A modification in the Child Support order is an option for both the non-custodial and custodial parent. However, this request is subject to meeting two requirements to be accepted.

  • A substantial or material change in circumstances, such as loss or change of employment, changes in the child's needs (including illness), changes in the child's living conditions, or an increase in expenses for the care of other dependents.
  • Three years have passed since the existing order, and the amount of child support that would be awarded according to the updated guidelines differs by 20% or $100.

No other reason will be accepted to process this request. Once completed, the modification documents will be sent to the counterpart, who will have 20 days to respond. If the court does not receive a response, the modification may be approved by default. If both parties agree to the modification, a joint notification motion is filed in court, making the modification process simpler.

Modifying child support is a process that requires the guidance and assistance of an expert to carry out the process in the best possible way, so consulting with a family lawyer in Dallas may be your best option.

Can I Still See My Children if I Owe Child Support?

The court-established visitation in Texas is a separate issue from child support debt and does not affect the latter. In most cases, custodial parents decide not to allow visitation if the counterpart has not made the relevant support payments, however, this is not only a mistake that will be frowned upon by the state but will also be considered a violation of the law and may even be convicted.

Seek The Help of Experienced Lawyers.

If you need help with a child support case, it is ideal to consult with experts who can advise you in the best way. GarciaWindsor is a family law firm in Dallas, Texas that has a team of lawyers with over 86 years of combined experience, characterized by our determination and commitment in each case. We treat each client as if they were a member of our family, ensuring they receive the attention they deserve and care for every detail of their case. Together, we will develop a strategy to help you achieve the desired results.

Contact us today to schedule a consultation and begin the process of starting a new chapter in your life.