She is 24 years old, has one year old with another man. Child support order since April 2011 for $255/month. She is behind by $1500. Is she in danger of being in contempt? For this year, $2490 has been paid so far. Please advise. Thank you.
Divorce / Separation Lawyer
If there has been no action taken by the other parent or the Office of the Attorney General an arrest is unlikely. The first step when Court-ordered child support is not paid is an enforcement action. If the other parent has pursued an enforcement action and obtained a valid Order, it is possible that an individual may be jailed for failure to pay child support. Contact an attorney in your area to determine how to best address the issue of unpaid child support before an enforcement action is initiated.
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You are asking more than one question. She won't be arrested is she is stopped for driving her car for example.
However, she is in contempt of court because she is behind in her child support. She was ordered by a judge to pay child support monthly. She has not been paying it on a regular and timely manner. Therefore, she is in contempt of court. But nothing happens until someone notifies a judge to do something legally to her.
So if the other parent or the TX A G office files a lawsuit against her and asks that a judge hold her in contempt of court for not paying her child support then a judge can put her in jail for non-payment or the judge could order her to pay court costs and/or attorney's fees. Attorney fees could be a lot of money.
By the way, the legislature of TX has recently changed the law so that even if she pays her child support current she might still be held in contempt of court. People were not paying their child support then running to court the day of the hearing & paying it in full to avoid going to jail. The legislatures of TX got tired of hearing from the custodial parents and the judges about this for many years, so the law was revised as of 9/1/2013. So she cannot just run down to court & pay it off & hope that it will go away!
I recommend that she begin paying as much as she can each week (or month) toward this debt because she owes the money PLUS 6% interest on the past due money she owes. This debt is going to grow & grow. The more she pays the better it looks to the judge. Ignoring this debt does not look good to a judge.
Having a new baby is no excuse. She knew that she already had another child when she got pregnant again. The older child takes a priority over the new baby -- harsh but it is the reality of the law! The older child will always come first under Texas laws! The first child eats before the new baby! (I've actually heard a judge tell a man that in court!)
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