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Barbara L. Jouette, Attorney, P.C.
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What happens if a spouse does not pay child support?

Child support laws in Texas can be complex, so it can be helpful for anyone who is court ordered to make support payments to understand the system. In most situations, a noncustodial parent will be required by the court to make child support payments every month. Once the family court has issued this order, a noncustodial parent can face legal consequences if they do not make their payments on time.

When a person falls behind on their child support payments, the custodial parent has to let the court know. If it's shown that payments are not being made, the court may revoke an individual's driver's license, prevent them from obtaining a passport or even hold them in contempt of court and send them to jail. This is on top of having to pay any past due support they owe. It should be noted, though, that there are possible defenses to these contempt charges.

Noncustodial parents who can show that the custodial parent relinquished the child to them will have a legitimate defense for not making child support payments. Additionally, the obligor could also show that they made good faith attempts at obtaining money to make their payment but that they were unsuccessful in doing so. This doesn't necessarily remove their burden, but courts will reconsider the amount of child support that should be paid if the obligor can show that their financial situation has substantially changed since the initial order was put into place.

Family law cases can be especially stressful, and when these situations involve children, the whole process can become complex. It's important to ensure a fair child support order is reached that still guarantees that a child is well cared for. Things can quickly become difficult, though, if a parent doesn't pay child support. In these instances, legal assistance may be able to secure a quick and fair outcome.

Source: Texas Constitution and Statutes , "CHAPTER 157. ENFORCEMENT", November 19, 2014

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