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Enforcing back child support through contempt citations

Texas parents who fall behind on mandated child support payments can be found in contempt of court and can be jailed for up to six months and/or fined up to $500 every time they fail to make a payment. In addition, the arrearages will continue to accrue. The courts can also put liens on certain types of property owned by the delinquent parent. State-issued licenses, including driver's licenses and professional licenses, are subject to revocation as well.

A Motion for Enforcement may be filed by a custodial parent, a government agency or a county Domestic Relations Office. Custodial parents attempting to enforce a child support obligation through a contempt citation can file for arrearages until two years after the date on which child support payments were due to terminate or until the second anniversary of the date on which the child became an adult.

The court will take partial payments of support into consideration. It will also consider circumstances when a parent who falls behind on payments claims that he or she lacks the ability to pay the required amount. Delinquent parents must prove conclusively that they had no property that they could sell, mortgage or pledge in order to raise the funds, and that they were unable to borrow the funds or raise the money through any other legal means.

It is almost always advisable for parents to resolve support issues between themselves before involving the court, as the interests of a child are best served when the parents have an amicable relationship. However, if the custodial parent is having recurrent problems receiving child support payments, a family law attorney can be a useful resource to make sure that promised payments are made.

Source: Legal Aid of NorthWest Texas, "Child Support Arrearages", September 21, 2014

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