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Unpaid child support: Amounts continue to rise in Texas

Texas continues to see significant increases in the amount of unpaid child support. The amount owed has trended upwards over the past five years.  Custodial parents who rely on child support payments to help feed and clothe their children are undoubtedly feeling the pinch of the rise in delinquency.

As recently as 2008, the amount owed by delinquent parents was under $10 billion, with 851,823 individual cases reported as being in arrears. However, the number of cases in arrears rose to more than 1 million in 2012, with parents owing more than $12.1 billion in Texas child support. 

Considering that many of the parents who were in arrears may have owed money for multiple children, the most recent data represent a very large number of children who were not receiving adequate financial support from a parent.

Married parents understand how hard it can be to juggle finances as part of a cohesive family unit; single parents who are missing child support from a noncustodial parent are likely to struggle even more.

Generally, under Texas law, between 20 and 40 percent of a noncustodial parent's income should be paid as child support to ensure that each child receives adequate care. If a parent falls behind on support payments, the attorney general's office may take steps to garnish the parent’s wages, revoke his or her driver’s license or intercept federal tax refunds to help make up the difference.

If you are a custodial parent who is not receiving the ordered child support payments, then a family law attorney can clarify your options for enforcement. Likewise, if you are a noncustodial parent whose financial situation has somehow changed for the worse, then a child support modification may be the best thing for you and your family.

In any case, noncustodial parents should never simply stop making the required support payments.

Source: Valley Morning Star, "Child support back pay increases," Bill Reagan, May 2, 2014

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