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Child support delinquency rates high in Texas

More Texas parents than ever before are falling behind on child support. As of 2011, the U.S. Administration for Children and Families estimated that Texas parents owed nearly $11 billion in back child support payments. Delinquency rates in the Dallas metropolitan area are between 40 and 50 percent. As a result, the Texas Attorney General's child support division says its caseload has increased by more than 60 percent over the last decade.

To deal with the rising rate of delinquencies, the child support division has modified its approach. While maintaining the threat of possible criminal charges and jail time for parents who do not meet their court-ordered obligations, the state has added an incentive. The Texas Workforce Commission now operates a program called Choices that helps delinquent parents obtain occupational skills and find jobs. Since the inception of the program in 2009, participants have found employment at a rate of around 80 percent.

Although Texas uses child support guidelines to determine the amount of support owed based on the income of both parties, some parents may believe their support obligation is unfair. Avoiding payment is not the answer to a child support dispute. If a parent does not pay, the custodial parent does not have needed support to meet the everyday expenses of raising a child, such as clothing and food, much less extracurricular expenses.

An experienced child support lawyer can work to help a parent obtain a fair child support settlement by carefully analyzing both parties' income and investigating all sources of income to determine the correct number. A lawyer also can provide assistance in enforcing a child support order when one parent does not pay.

Source: Longview News-Journal, "Gregg County child support delinquency rate at 39%," Glenn Evans, Oct. 18, 2012

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