By law, child support must be paid until the child turns 18 or graduates high school, whichever one comes later. There may be exceptions, such as if the child has certain disabilities or if he or she is emancipated as a minor by way marriage, military service, or court petition. If the party that is ordered to pay child support fails to do so, there are a few steps you can take to enforce the child support order.
- Step one: contact a San Antonio child support attorney. While you can attempt to go through the courts yourself, they are often backlogged and it can be months or years before they get to your request. An attorney can speed this process along. Discuss your options for enforcement with your attorney. You may be able to have a conversation with your ex, be it through your attorney, and establish a payment plan.
- Step Two: consider modifying the agreement. You will need an attorney for this. If the obliger parent cannot fulfill his or her support obligations because of a material change in circumstances, such as a change in job status or a medical issue, modifying the order may be the best option.
- Step three File an enforcement order through the Texas Child Support Division. This will become an option if no agreement was able to be reached, and your attorney can file this on your behalf. The judge will then be tasked with deciding the best way to enforce the child support order.
They can either hold the obliger in contempt of court for violating child support or they can issue a warrant for their arrest.
Consequences of not paying child support in San Antonio
Child support is not an option, and Texas has a strict no-tolerance rule for those who attempt to evade payment. There are steep consequences for those who do not pay child support, including holding the obliger in contempt of court for violating child support, or an arrest warrant. Other penalties may include:
The child support evader can face up to two years in jail and have to pay fines. These fines are in addition to the child support they already owe. A San Antonio child support attorney will review your options before going before a judge and having your ex sent to jail.
Their license can be revoked
Failure to pay child support they can result in license revocation. This includes a driver’s license, commercial driver’s license, fishing license, concealed handgun license, and business license.
Another method to prevent child support evasion is wage garnishment. Most orders will include an automatic income withholding order. This letter is sent to employers so they can withhold payments from the obligor’s paycheck. Note that both parents do not need to live in Texas for this option to be used; an out-of-state parent may have his or her wages garnished even if the child primarily resides in Texas.
If parents fall behind on their child support payments when they file their taxes, the state can intercept the payment and take what is owed to the other parent. This can continue each year until child support payments are caught up. This also applies to lottery winnings and other monetary sources. Again, it does not matter if one parent lives outside the state of Texas.
One of the least common consequences, but still a possibility, are property liens. A lien can be placed on bank accounts, cars, and retirement plans. A lien will remain until the back child support has been paid.
A passport is not only another form of ID but also a way to leave the country. If a person falls behind in child support over $2,500 they will be unable to obtain a passport. If the person already has a passport, they will not be able to leave the country, in some cases.
A person’s credit score can be impacted if they fall behind on child support. The state is required to report information on delinquent child support payments.
What is the Child Support Evaders Program?
While most penalties focus on securing the obligated support, there is one other potential consequence: being reported to the Child Support Evader Program, which is handled by the Office of the Attorney General. Per the law:
The Office of the Attorney General is required by law to publicly identify those parents who are delinquent in the payment of their child support and meet the conditions below.
- Court ordered delinquent child support must be more than $5,000
- An arrest warrant has been issued
- The Noncustodial parent is avoiding apprehension
- There have not been any regularly made payments in the last six months
- The Noncustodial parent must not be involved in bankruptcy proceedings or receiving TANF benefits.
- A confidentiality waiver must be signed by the Custodial parent, allowing certain case information to be made public
- A photograph must be available
Penalties like this affect not only the obliger’s financial status, but his or her reputation as well. The penalties are purposely harsh to deter parents from skipping out on their obligations, and to hold them accountable when they do.
Things to know about child support in San Antonio
There are a few things to keep in mind regarding child support. Each case is unique and it is important to have the experience of an attorney to guide you through your options.
Child support does not stop upon incarceration
Even if a person is incarcerated, this will not stop child support payments automatically. If the incarcerated individual would like child support to be modified during their time behind bars, they must file an “Incarcerated Noncustodial Parent Affidavit.”
Past-due support does not go away
If a person falls behind on child support, it will only begin to mount. It does not go away, even if the child is an adult. In fact, the state will charge interest which will only increase the amount that is owed.
Some payment is better than no payment
The state will take into account partial payments. They will often see this as a good faith attempt of the obligee. This does not mean they can get away with making partial payments forever. You will need to ensure that if this seems to become a pattern, you contact a San Antonio child support attorney.
If you need help enforcing child support, it’s time to have a discussion with an experienced San Antonio family law attorney. Call the office of Grable Grimshaw PLLC at 210-963-5297, or complete our contact form to schedule a consultation.