Every parent in Texas has a duty to provide for his or her children. In cases where one parent has primary custody, the other will usually be ordered to make child support payments.
Child support payments are not optional. Parents who do not keep up with their child support obligations can face serious legal trouble, and can even be arrested. A recent enforcement action by the Texas Attorney General's Child Support Division shows just how serious the consequences for not paying child support can be.
Earlier this month, the Ector County Sheriff arrested six parents who were in violation of their child support orders. All six had civil arrest warrants issued against them after it was determined that they were in contempt of court.
Parents who are arrested in Texas for failure to pay child support can be held in jail for up to six months.
Of course, jail time is not the only possible consequence of failing to make child support payments. In most cases, authorities will try other options first, including garnishing wages, seizing tax refunds or lottery winnings, placing liens against property or restricting the parent's ability to get certain state-issued licenses.
Parents who are having trouble keeping up with their child support payments are encouraged to ask for help before the problem gets out of hand. If there has been a significant change in circumstances, the law may allow the parent to modify their obligation. At the very least, the parent may be able to avoid legal trouble by working out a way to pay back any past-due support.
Source: Permian Basin 360, "Six Arrested During Child Support Sweep in Ector County," April 10, 2013
For more information about child support and child custody in Texas, please visit our website.