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What To Expect When You Are Expected To Pay Child Support

Parents all across Texas are in the position to either pay or receive child support, whether they are divorced or were never married to the other parent. Child support is a critical resource that is intended to benefit the child by providing financial support to the custodial parent.

While it may be fairly simple for people to understand when they will be required to pay child support and how payments are calculated, there are many questions that come up after an order for support has been issued.

How long will I pay child support?

Generally speaking, parents in Texas will be required to pay child support until a child no longer qualifies for support. In accordance with Texas child support laws, support may be terminated when:

  • A child turns 18 and is no longer enrolled in school
  • A child gets married
  • A child is adopted
  • A child passes away
  • A child older than 18 is no longer disabled
  • Testing proves there is no genetic relationship between paying parent and child

Unless and until one of these events occurs, parents will typically be responsible for making child support payments.

How often will support be paid?

The frequency with which child support should be paid depends greatly on the specific details of an individual situation. While some parents will pay support by purchasing annuity or setting aside property, most people will make either periodic or lump-sum payments. The money will generally be taken out of a person’s paycheck directly, though there are exceptions.

What happens if a parent fails to pay child support?

If a parent fails to make a payment, there are several consequences that may follow as means of enforcing the support order. To begin with, he or she may have the money taken automatically from a paycheck (in cases where income withholdings were not initially ordered), tax return and even lottery winnings. A delinquent parent could also have a driver’s license and/or professional licenses suspended or revoked.

Perhaps the most serious penalty could be jail time. Delinquency is a violation of court orders, so it is possible that a parent could be held in contempt of court for non-compliance and face criminal consequences.

Can child support amounts change over time?

Unlike some other family law matters, child support orders are not one-time settlements; they can be in place for several years. During this time, many things can change in a parent’s or child’s life. If a parent experiences a significant change in financial means or custody or if the needs of the child dramatically increase or decrease, there may be reason to pursue a modification of support.

However, it is crucial to understand that child support payments should be made in full and on time until a modification for support is approved by the courts.

What if I have questions about delinquency?

Any parent who is unsure about their financial obligation or has concerns about missing child support payments would be wise to seek legal counsel sooner rather than later. Non-payment can quickly spiral out of control and negatively impact a child’s well-being. Resolving these matters as quickly as possible with the help of an attorney can be essential.