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Enforcing or modifying child support orders in Texas

It is important for both custodial and non-custodial parents to understand what their rights and obligations are when it comes to child support, especially in light of recent statistics.
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    January 08, 2014 /24-7PressRelease/ -- Enforcing or modifying child support orders in Texas

Article provided by Marlene Dancer Adams, Attorney at Law
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When parents divorce, child support payments help ensure the security and well being of the children. Unfortunately, many parents in Harris County and other parts of Texas face issues with child support, whether it is a spouse falling behind on payments or an order being set too high.

It is important for both custodial and non-custodial parents to understand what their rights and obligations are when it comes to child support, especially in light of recent statistics. State records indicate that many separated Texas couples may struggle either to collect or pay child support.

Delinquency a problem in Texas

A Houston Chronicle article published last year offers some surprising statistics on divorce and child support in Texas, which were supplied by the Texas Attorney General's Office. Some of these are:
-About 1 million parents in the state are ordered to pay child support.
-In 2011, more than 400,000 of those parents were delinquent on at least one payment for more than a month.
-Over the years, the total amount owed by delinquent parents in Texas has mounted to $11 billion.
-When the article was published, more than 40 percent of parents in Harris County, Bexar County and Dallas County were behind on child support.

With child support payments and delinquency clearly an issue for many families in Texas, parents need to understand their options both for enforcing and modifying child support orders.

Enforcement and modifications

According to the website of the Texas Attorney General, there are various ways that child support payments can be recovered from a parent who has fallen behind or simply stopped paying. Options include wage or income tax withholding, suspension of licenses and the filing of a lawsuit on behalf of the custodial parent. According to the same Houston Chronicle article, this kind of enforcement recovered more than $3.5 billion over a period of several years.

While some cases of delinquency or failure to pay involve parents who simply refuse to pay child support, there are also many cases where the non-custodial parent is unable to make payments because of changes in income or other financial issues. When this occurs, the parent who is unable to pay can and should seek child custody modifications.

According to the Texas Attorney General website, changes in the circumstances of the child or parent can be grounds for modification of child support orders. Every three years, a parent may request that the Office of the Attorney General conduct a review of the child support orders. Two parents cannot privately agree on a modified child support amount; the issue must always be settled in court.

Any parent who is struggling to either pay or collect due child support should speak with an attorney. An attorney can help the parent understand his or her rights and responsibilities and work toward the arrangement that will best for the child.

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