What Are the Legal, Financial, and Social Consequences of Failing to Pay Child Support in Texas?
Texas has strict laws regarding delinquent child support payments. Some parents who are facing financial challenges may consider not paying their child support obligations or may be entirely unable to do so. Unfortunately, it does not matter whether you intentionally withhold payment or are struggling with a financial crisis; if you do not pay your child support, you could face serious ramifications.
If you are having trouble paying your child support, reach out to a Texas family law attorney as soon as possible to discuss your options for modifying your support order. Without prompt action, you could risk significant consequences. Here are ten things you should know about failing to pay your child support in Texas:
You Could Be Arrested for Not Paying Child Support
Failing to pay your child support can result in serious legal issues. A child support order is a court order which means you could be held in contempt of court for nonpayment and may face serious jail time and large monetary fines as punishment. Alternatively, if you intentionally or knowingly fail to pay support for a minor child, you could potentially face a state felony charge of criminal nonsupport.
Keep in mind that just because you are incarcerated, it does not mean that your child support obligations are put on hold. You must request a modification to your child support if you are in jail and cannot make payments. Otherwise, your delinquent payments will continue to increase.
Your Wages Could Be Garnished
In an attempt to collect your child support, the state can file an income withholding order (IWO) with your employer. Similar to how taxes are withheld, your child support payment will be deducted from your paycheck before you receive it. By law, the employer must remit the amount stated in the IWO to the child support office every pay period. An IWO can lead to garnishment of up to half your wages.
Your Name and Photo Could Be Posted on a Public List
The Texas Attorney General’s Office has a Child Support Evaders Program to identify and apprehend individuals who are at least $5,000 delinquent in making payments and have a warrant out for their arrest. As part of this program, the AG maintains a website of evaders with their name, photo, and amount of back child support owed. The public is encouraged to provide tips leading to the arrest of these individuals.
Your Driver’s License and Other State Licenses Could Be Suspended
The Texas Family Code allows the state to suspend your licenses if you are in arrears on your child support. Not only could you lose your driving privileges, but you may also lose your fishing, hunting, concealed weapon, professional, and other licenses. Even if you get caught up on your child support, you will need to go through the process of getting your licenses reinstated, which may involve fees or exams.
Liens May Be Placed on Your Assets
If you have outstanding child support payments, liens may be placed against your property. A lien is essentially a notice that you owe unpaid debts. If you wish to sell or cash out your assets, you must clear the lien by paying the debt before the property transfer can occur. Liens can be placed on all types of assets, from homes and vehicles to bank accounts and retirement funds.
You May Not Receive Money You Were Expecting
The Texas Attorney General can intercept funds you were anticipating, such as tax refunds, lottery winnings, inheritances, or personal injury settlements, and redirect them to pay your delinquent child support. They do not have to warn you prior to taking this action.
Your Credit Score Could Decrease
Failure to make child support payments will be reported to the major credit bureaus. This information will likely result in a drop in your credit scores, making it harder to get loans, find housing, and open credit cards.
You May Be Unable to Get a Passport
Child support debt of more than $2,500 could make you ineligible for a US passport. Without a valid passport, you cannot travel internationally for trips or business.
You Cannot Expect Unpaid Child Support to Disappear
Some people believe that if they wait until their child is no longer a minor, their child support responsibilities will evaporate. However, that is not the case. The state can continue to seek repayment of your child support and will charge you interest on your late payments.
You Will Not Lose the Right to See Your Child
While there are many consequences to not paying child support, losing the right to spend time with your child is not one of them. The state believes that every child needs the love and guidance of both parents. For this reason, child support and visitation rights are separate issues. The other parent cannot deny your right to see your child, even if you are behind on child support. If they attempt to limit your time with your child due to unpaid support, contact a family law attorney immediately to learn about your legal options.
How Can a Texas Attorney Assist You if You Are Having Trouble Paying Your Child Support?
If you are facing financial difficulties and cannot pay your child support, it is crucial to take prompt action to prevent the situation from getting out of control and negatively impacting your life. A knowledgeable child support lawyer can evaluate your circumstances and help you request a modification to lower your payments. Credits may also be available that could reduce any amount you already owe.
Until you are able to get your support order modified, it is crucial to pay whatever amount you can afford toward your child support. Even if it is not the full amount, it shows that you are making a good-faith effort to stay current on your payments. This action can prevent legal difficulties and lessens the amount of arrears you must repay later. To learn how the Law Offices of S. Dylan Pearcy can help you find a long-term solution to your difficulties, contact us today to schedule a free case evaluation: 210-953-7486.