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State Bar of Texas

What Happens if You Don’t Pay Child Support?

Jerry W. Tidwell, Jr.
What Happens If You Don't Pay Child Support?

Non-custodial parents are typically ordered to pay child support to their ex. The amount they are required to pay each month will vary based on several factors, with one of the most important being their monthly net income.

The court will determine the amount to pay and issue an order confirming this. The only way this amount can be altered is through another court order.

If you are not current on paying the court-ordered child support, you need to speak with a knowledgeable Texas child support attorney.

What Happens if You Don’t Pay Child Support?

Failure to pay court ordered child support can result in serious legal consequences. The court can issue an order that will allow your paycheck to be garnished. This means the money would be taken out of your check before you are even paid. What if you are expecting a federal tax return or recently won the lottery? The court can make an order regarding those as well.

Other consequences can include a suspended or revocation of various licenses, including your driver’s license, commercial driver’s license, business license, concealed handgun license, or even a fishing/hunting license. If you owe back child support in Texas, the court could order a lien to be placed on your property. Property can be defined as more than just real estate, it can include bank accounts, cars, retirement plans, etc.

Can You Go to Jail for Not Paying Child Support?

It does not happen with every case, but yes, non-payment could result in the judge ordering jail time. One common way this happens is in a situation where the offender is willfully and intentionally not paying child support despite having the funds and financial means to do so. The judge may find you in contempt of court, which can carry a maximum sentence of up to six months.

Texas child support laws, including Texas Penal Code 25.05, make it a state jail felony to knowingly or intentionally fail to pay court-ordered child support for your children under 18 years of age. It’s typically called “criminal nonsupport,” and it can be punishable up to six months to two years in a Texas jail as well as a fine of up to $10,000.

In situations where you can’t pay the entire amount you were ordered to pay, it’s imperative to pay whatever you can. This shows the courts that you are willing and intend to pay the amount. That will reduce the risk of being sentenced to jail time.

Back Child Support in Texas Doesn’t Go Away

If you have past due child support, it does not ever go away. In fact, the amount will get bigger since the state attaches interest to unpaid child support amounts. Texas has the right to pursue unpaid child support, even if the child has since become an adult.

Contact a Texas Child Support Attorney

If you are not paying child support as ordered by the court, it’s best to speak with a family law attorney who can assist you with the arrangement of payment of back child support in Texas. Contact our child custody attorneys at Tidwell Law Firm, PLLC today to schedule a consultation.

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