Last Updated on September 28, 2023 by Turner Thornton
If you are a parent who is struggling to make ends meet, you may be tempted to stop paying child support. This is a huge mistake. Not only could it damage your relationship with your child, but you could also face jail time and other negative consequences.
In this blog post, we will discuss the eight biggest pitfalls of failing to pay child support in Texas (don’t miss #2). Please also take a moment to watch the informative videos from Turner Thornton, an experienced family law attorney at Varghese Summersett Family Law Group.
1. You can end up behind bars for failing to pay child support in Texas.
If you were ordered to pay child support and you don’t make your payments, the other parent can take you to court. If the judge finds that you purposely failed to pay child support, you could be found in contempt of court for violating a court order and sentenced to up to six months in jail.
In Texas, you can also be arrested for failing to pay child support. Under Texas Penal Code 25.05, a person commits the offense of “criminal nonsupport” if he or she “intentionally or knowingly” fails to provide support for their child. Criminal non-support is a state jail felony punishable by six months to two years in a state jail facility and a maximum $10,000 fine.
It’s important to point out that if you are intentionally avoiding your court-ordered obligation to pay child support, you could end up on the Texas Attorney General’s website. The OAG operates a Child Support Evader Program in which officials publish the names and photos of parents who owe more than $5,000 in child support and have a warrant out for their arrest.
2. You can lose your driver’s license (and any other license) for failing to pay child support in Texas.
If you fail to pay child support, your driver’s license can be suspended – and any other license you hold in Texas. Under Chapter 232 of the Texas Family Code, any license issued by the state of Texas can be suspended for failing to pay child support, including a professional license, a license to carry, or even a hunting or fishing license.
3. Your wages can be garnished from your paycheck to pay child support in Texas.
Most court orders for child support now include an automatic income withholding order, which is sent to the non-custodial parent’s employer instructing them to withhold child support from their paycheck. The amount that is withheld is then sent directly to the custodial parent (usually through the child support office).
4. Your tax returns can be seized for failing to pay child support in Texas.
In addition to wage garnishment, if you are behind on child support, the other parent can request that the child support office intercept your state and federal tax refunds. The child support office will then send the money to the custodial parent to help offset what is owed in child support. This also goes for lottery winnings.
5. You could have a lien put on your property, bank account, or retirement plans for failing to pay child support.
If you don’t pay child support, the Texas Attorney General’s Office can file a lien on your property, bank account, retirement plan or just about any other asset.
6. You may not be able to get a passport if you are behind on child support.
If you owe more than $2,500 in back child support, you can be denied a new or renewed passport.
7. Your credit score can tank if you owe back child support.
The Texas Attorney General’s Office is required to report the amount of child support you owe and the amount that has been paid to the credit reporting agencies. So if you are behind, don’t be surprised to see your credit scores drop.
8. You could lose your settlement on a personal injury case.
Under Texas law, a child support lien can be placed on personal injury settlements. This means that if a noncustodial parent receives a settlement from a personal injury claim, a portion of that settlement can be intercepted and applied towards their outstanding child support debt.
Behind on Child Support? Speak to an Experienced Attorney.
As you can see, Texas has a zero-tolerance approach when it comes to child support. If you have lost your job or are struggling to make your payments, it is important to speak to an experienced attorney who can assist you in having your child support lowered.
At Varghese Summersett Family Law Group, we understand people going through tough times. It’s what we do. Contact us today at 817-900-3220 to schedule a consultation with a compassionate family lawyer.
On the flip side, if you are a parent who isn’t receiving child support, we can assist with child support enforcement action.