When the parents of a minor child get divorced, or never lived together to begin with, child support is ordered to be paid by one parent to the other parent. Most parents make a good faith effort to pay their court ordered child support payments; however, some parents do fall significantly behind. If your child’s other parent has fallen behind on child support, you likely want to know what you can do about it. Dallas child support lawyer Rita M. Boyd explains what typically happens when child support payments fall into arrears.
Child Support Basics
First and foremost, it is imperative to understand that the law considers child support to be a right of the child and an obligation of the parent. Once a child support amount has been set by the court it becomes an order of the court. Violating any court order can result in serious negative repercussions.
Falling Behind on Child Support Payments
There are an infinite number of reasons why a parent might fall behind on court ordered child support payments. Although some parents intentionally avoid paying child support, most parents who fall behind do so for reasons out of their control. The loss of a job, the addition of a new child to support, or an accident/injury could all contribute to falling behind on child support payments. Once those payments go into arrears, the payee may notify the court about the arrearage, prompting the court to address the matter. If the child is receiving any type of government assistance, such as Medicaid or SNAP, the government may require the payee to cooperate in efforts to obtain support from the payor. The government has a vested interest in making sure that your child’s other parent is contributing to your child’s care and maintenance if the state/federal government is being asked to help.
What Happens If the Other Parent Fails to Cooperate?
Whether you initiate the review, or the state obligates you to cooperate, the court or original jurisdiction will likely summon the payor back to court to address the violation. The matter will be set for a hearing at which time the judge will ask your ex to explain why he/she is behind on the court ordered child support payments. If there is a legitimate reason that is beyond his/her control, the court could consider modifying the existing order to account for the changed circumstances. If, however, your ex cannot provide an acceptable (and supportable) explanation, the court has several “incentives” at its disposal under Tennessee law, including:
- Requiring employers to deduct court-ordered child support from the non-custodial parent’s paycheck through wage withholding.
- Intercepting federal income tax refund checks, lottery winnings, or other money that may be due from state or federal sources.
- Filing liens against his or her property or other assets.
- Suspending driver’s, professional, and hunting and fishing licenses
- Ordering the non-paying parent to spend some time in jail.
Do I Need to Consult with a Lawyer If My Ex Is Behind on Child Support?
If your child qualifies for state/federal assistance programs you will likely not need to do anything more than cooperate with them as they try to get your ex to make the payments. If, however, your child is not participating in any of these programs, you may wish to talk to a child support lawyer about the steps you can take to force your ex back into court to explain his/her failure to pay the court ordered child support.
Contact a Dallas Child Support Lawyer
If you have additional questions or concerns about child support in Texas, contact experienced Dallas child support lawyer Rita M. Boyd to discuss your legal rights and options by calling 972-380-8000 to schedule your appointment today.