When the non-custodial parent fails to meet their child support obligationthe custodial parent has options to enforce the obligation. In this article we will address some basic steps that can be taken and your rights.
Communicate with Your Ex
First, try to open communication with your ex. Maybe something beyond their control caused the payment not to make it to you.
Mediation is more common leading up to the divorce, but it can also be a useful tool afterward. Mediation gives you (and your ex) the chance to sit down and talk, while an impartial mediator works with you. This can be a good way to get at the root of the problem when it comes to unpaid child support. Does the other parent really not care? Has there been a change in circumstances or earnings? It may also enable you to modify the support order to reflect those changes and ensure that your ex is able to live up to their obligations.
You Can Pursue Enforcement
In a worst-case scenario, you can pursue enforcement. There are two ways you can do this:
- Attorney – You can hire an attorney who will explore all enforcement options including possible jail time, driver’s license suspension, business license suspension, garnishment of IRS refund checks, and suspension of hunting and fishing license.
- State – You can work with the Texas Office of the Attorney General to enforce child support payments.
Both methods have their pros and cons. For instance:
- The OAG is often best suited for pure child support enforcement orders.
- However, the OAG is often overwhelmed, so there may be long wait times.
- An attorney is faster, plus they can assist with enforcement of other provisions that need to be enforced such as spousal support, visitation, and property division.
Under Texas law, all parents are obligated to provide financial support for their children. Even if your ex-spouse has lost their employment, is in school, or is facing other financial hardships, it does not change the situation. Your children have a right to both emotional and financial support. By enforcing a child support order, you are doing the best thing for your children.
When you have a parent that repeatedly fails to pay child support, enforcement can sometimes be the best way to get them to understand the importance of their obligation and to make them comply in the future.
There is no right or wrong answer here. What works for one parent may not work for another. It’s always best to make an informed decision based on your unique situation and the needs of your children.