As any parent knows, children can be expensive. Knowing that, legislators have enacted laws that strongly encourage both parents of a minor child to continue to contribute to the child’s financial support despite a divorce or despite the fact that the parents were never married. If you were ordered to pay child support but are behind on your payments, for any reason, you need to understand the potential consequences you could face as a result. The Plano child support attorneys at The Law Office of Jon R. Boyd explain what happens if you don’t pay as ordered in the State of Texas.
When Is Child Support Ordered and How Is It Calculated in Texas?
The law requires both parents of a minor child to remain financially responsible for the child until the child reaches the age of majority. If the parents are married, the law assumes that both parents are contributing to the care and maintenance of the child. If the parents divorce, however, the court will typically require the non-custodial parent to pay child support to the custodial (known as the “managing conservator” in Texas) parent. If the child was born out of wedlock, to unmarried parents, child support will usually be ordered as part of a paternity action.
In the State of Texas, calculating child support is particularly simple because it is based entirely on the payor’s net income as follows:
- One child – 20% of the non-custodial parent’s net income
- Two children – 25% of net income
- Three children – 30% of net income
- Four children – 35% of net income
- Five or more children- 40% of net income
What Happens If You Fall Behind on Your Child Support Payments?
A parent can fall behind on court-ordered child support payments for numerous reasons. Although some parents intentionally avoid paying child support, most parents who fall behind do so for reasons out of their control. If you are behind on your support, you may eventually receive a summons for court to address the issue. This could happen because the other parent notified the court of the arrears and requested a hearing or it could be a result of the other parent applying for assistance such as Medicaid or Food Stamps.
The worst thing you can do if summoned to court is to ignore the summons. Keep in mind that the original child support order is just that – a court order. Failing to pay as directed, therefore, is a violation of that court order. Likewise, the summons you receive is also an order to appear before the court. Failing to show up, therefore, is also a violation of the court’s order. If you have what you believe to be a valid explanation for falling behind on your child support obligation, it is in your best interest to consult with an experienced child support attorney as soon as you are notified of the hearing. If the reason is something that is ongoing, you might qualify for a modification of the existing order.
The court has a number of options at its disposal to try and “encourage” a parent to pay child support, including:
- requiring employers to deduct court-ordered child support from the noncustodial 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;
- suspending driver’s, professional, and hunting and fishing licenses; and
- filing liens against his or her property or other assets;
- sentencing the payor to jail for up to six months for non-payment
The best way to avoid one of these unwanted consequences is to appear for the hearing, as ordered, with an attorney. Your attorney can explain the circumstances that led to you falling behind on your support payments and ask the court to modify your payments if there appears to be sufficient cause to do so.
Contact a Plano Child Support Attorneys
If you have additional questions or concerns about child support in the State of Texas, contact the experienced Plano child support attorneys at The Law Office of Jon R. Boyd by calling 972-332-0104 to schedule your appointment today. Appointments available in Plano, Allen, Frisco, or Fort Worth.