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The State of Texas has a valid interest in ensuring that parents are required to support their children. If parents do not support their children, the State of Texas becomes responsible for helping to provide for the child's basic necessities through state funded programs like food stamps and welfare. To prevent necessary reliance on government programs when a couple files a Divorce, a Suit Affecting the Parent Child Relationship, or a Paternity lawsuit, the judge will require that child support be established. The Family Law Code sets out exactly how much a non-custodial parent is to pay per month in child support and medical expenses. Chapter 154 provides the support guidelines based on the monthly net income of the non-custodial parent, and the number of children born from the relationship. For one child the payment is 20% of the non-custodial parents net resources, two children, 25%, 3 children 30%, and so on. When the parties have retained attorneys the amount of child support can be agreed to differently then the Texas Family Code suggests based on the needs of the child, and the financial resources available for the support of the child. When the court orders the non-custodial parent to pay the amount of child support either agreed to, or set based on the Texas Child Support Guidelines, failure to pay that amount can lead to serious repercussions.
When a parent fails to pay the support ordered by the court the recipient parent with the aide of an attorney can file a lawsuit. In an Enforcement Suit, a money judgment for arrearages, retroactive child support, and interest can be ordered. A child support arrearage is the amount that the non-custodial parent owes from missed payments. Retroactive child support is the amount a parent should have paid from the period of time before paternity of the child was established. The judgment entered in such a suit is equal to the amount due and owing plus interest from the date of the judgment or earlier. A judgment in an enforcement action may be enforced by the same means as any other judgment for a debt. One way this kind of judgment may be enforced is through an order withholding from earnings for child support. The order will require the non-custodial parent's employer to withhold an amount for a specified period of time until the debt is paid and the support becomes current again. A knowledgeable Family Law attorney can explore the other options available for the enforcement of a support obligation either because of arrearages, or a retroactive support obligation.