It is the policy of the State of Texas that children should be supported by the contributions of both of their parents. This means that even if the parents choose not to reside together with the children, they will each still be legally responsible for the financial support of their children. To this end, like most other states, Texas has established guidelines that use the incomes of each parent to determine what each”s share of the child support should be. Generally speaking, the parent with whom the child lives, known as the “custodial parent” (or sometimes, depending on the circumstances the “sole conservator” or “primary joint conservator,”) will receive child support payments from the “noncustodial parent.”
Usually, the non-custodial parent or “payer” will be ordered to pay certain recurring amount of support. This may be monthly, weekly, or bi-weekly, often depending upon the structure of that person”s income schedule. The amount can be taken directly out of a non-custodial parent”s paycheck through an “income deduction order, which may be the easiest to enforce a child support order. However, in many cases, either an income deduction order isn’t issued, or can’t be enforced due to the type of employment of the payer or other circumstances. In these cases, the noncustodial parent is responsible for making the payments.
When the parent responsible for paying child support does not, arrearages can add up quickly. This is to the detriment of the child, and the law has a few different ways custodial parents may attempt to enforce their children”s right to support. The state may intercept tax refunds or certain other government payments owed to the nonpaying parent and distribute this to the custodian. The delinquent parent may have his or her driver”s license or professional licenses suspended until support is paid. Liens may be filed for the amounts owed on property owned by the nonpaying person. Finally, a motion for contempt can be filed against the noncustodial parent so that he or she must pay some amount to avoid being found in civil contempt and possibly even sent to jail.
While in a perfect world, parents would never get divorced, and children would be taken care of by everyone, that is not the world in which we live. For various reasons, Texas parents may fail to abide by their legal obligations to financially support their children, and in those instances, it is important for custodial parents to understand their options to enforce their children”s rights.