How are Texas child support orders enforced?

When parents in Texas fall behind on their child support, the state has a number of enforcement options available to encourage them to pay.

Family law courts throughout Texas frequently issues child support orders. These are meant to ensure both parents bear the financial responsibility of raising their children, even if they are divorced, separated or unmarried. Most parents fulfill these court-ordered obligations without issue. Sometimes, however, people may fall behind on their payments or simply refuse to pay. In such situations, the state has a number of options available for enforcing the child support order.

Wage withholding provisions

Texas law dictates that child support orders should include wage withholding provisions. This allows the court to order wage withholding when the child support order is put in place, or to implement this option if they paying parent falls into behind. Through wage withholding, the paying parent's employer is required to deduct a specified amount from his or her paychecks. This amount is then forwarded to the state and applied to the parent's child support obligation.

License suspensions

In cases when parents fail to make their child support payments, they may have certain state licenses suspended, including their driver's, recreational and professional licenses. This includes their hunting and fishing licenses, as well as their law, medical or dental licenses. According to the Attorney General of Texas, parents could be subject to this enforcement option if they are not complying with a child support order and have fallen behind at least three months on their payments.

Liens

Liens are also an option the state may employ in order to enforce child support orders. A lien is a legal claim that may be placed on the nonexempt property of a paying parent. Through this action, the parent cannot sell or dispose of the property without paying his or her child support debt. Liens may be placed on property such as second homes, second vehicles, valuable collections and other luxury items.

Income intercepts

The Attorney General of Texas points out that income intercepts are another child support enforcement option available to the state. When parents are behind on their payments, the Child Support Division may intercept monies due to the paying parent from certain federal sources. This includes lottery winnings and federal tax refunds.

Contempt of court

In situations when child support is ordered by the court, neglecting to make their payments may result in legal issues for parents. This is because they may be found in contempt of the court for not complying with a court order. Consequently, a parent may face up to six months in jail. For each violation, parents who are found in contempt may also be fined $500, according to the Attorney General of Texas.

Seeking legal guidance

Failing to pay child support may have serious implications for the paying parents and nonpaying parents alike. Texas parents who fall behind on their child support obligations may face consequences that affect their daily lives and livelihoods. Parents who are owed payments may struggle to provide for their children without the support they are due. Therefore, parents who find themselves dealing with such situations may benefit from consulting with an attorney. A legal representative may help them understand their options for pursuing a modification or seeking enforcement assistance.