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Child support enforcement and withholding of arrearages in Texas

In Texas, parents who share a child but are no longer together as a couple will likely have a child support agreement. In general, that will mean one parent will have custody while the other makes payments to assist with the child's everyday care and expenses. But, there are certain situations in which the parent who was ordered to pay fails to do so. This is when the law will step in and move forward with various child support enforcement tactics.

Income withholding is one method that the state will use to ensure that the proper payments are made. Income will be withheld from the obligor's disposable earnings so the payments are kept current. Income withholding will not begin unless: the obligor is found to have been behind in the payments for more than 30 days; the amount in arrears is equal to or more than what is due for one month; or any other violations of the child support agreement have happened.

Income for arrearages can be withheld in addition to current child support if the obligor is behind in the payments. This is to liquidate back payments including interest that might have accumulated. If there is an additional amount to be withheld, it must be enough to discharge arrearages within two years or with an extra 20 percent on top of what the current child support order is - whichever will lead to the payments being up-to-date in the shortest period of time.

If child support is not due and there are arrearages to be paid, the court can declare that there will be income withholding to pay the arrearages. That will include interest that has accrued. The amount must be enough so that the arrearages can be discharged in no more than two years. There can also be a withholding to satisfy a judgment to pay for arrearages. The court has the right to order that a reasonable amount be withheld from the obligor's disposable income to satisfy the judgment.

Parents need to be aware of how the courts deal with child support enforcement and delinquent payments. If there is an issue making the payments, there are options such as modifying the agreement or coming up with an alternative plan. Parents in the Dallas area who are having problems paying or getting payments need to speak to an attorney experienced in helping with child support modification to settle the issue.

Source: Texas Family Code, "Chapter 158. Withholding From Earnings for Child Support," accessed on Jan. 18, 2016

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