Often times people want to know what the court can do to a parent when they fail to meet their child support obligation. Before we get there, we need to define two important terms: obligor - the one who owes child support; and, obligee - the one who receives the child support (If husband owes wife child support each month, then he is the obligor and she is the obligee). In Texas, there are at least 4 options that the court has to deal with non-compliant obligors. These options can be used separately or in conjunction with others. Remember that different judges handle different situations differently. Here are some options the court has:
- Income Withholding. A court may order that income be withheld from the paycheck of the obligor. This can be difficult if the obligor is self-employed, but there are some other ways to make sure the payment gets made. One option is to request that the obligor post bond to ensure that the payments are made.
- Child Support Lien. A child support lien can be placed against any real or personal property of the obligor. There are some specific requirements to have an effective child support lien which may require the assistance of a family lawyer. An experienced family lawyer may know about special assets that are subject to a child support lien.
- Suspension of License. If the obligor has an arrearage equal to or greater than the total support due for 90 days under a support order, then the obligee may file a petition asking the court to suspend the obligor's license(s). There are several types of licenses, other than the driver's license, that are subject to suspension: plumbing, pest control, nurses, attorney, doctor, public accountants, barber's, alcoholic beverage, and several others.
- Commitment. A court may find the obligor in either civil or criminal contempt if the child support payments are not being made. Criminal contempt can be punished by incarceration in the county jail for <180 days or a fine of $500 per violation. Civil contempt can be punished by incarceration for an indefinite period until the obligor performs or stops a specific act. Criminal and civil contempt are not necessarily exclusive of each other.
While it is possible to successfully pursue an ex-spouse that not making child support payments, the assistance of an experienced lawyer may increase the chances of success. There are special tricks and traps. By having a lawyer in your corner, fighting for you, you may be able to collect the child support you need and deserve.