What should be done with a deadbeat parent who refuses to pay child support? I’m not talking about a parent who has fallen on hard times. I’m referring to that control-freak parent who was probably mentally and/or physically abusive during the relationship. And now they use the child support to continue controlling the other parent.
A control freak may use one or more of these techniques:
- Paying a portion of the support,
- Making deductions for expenses they incur for the children (real or imagined),
- Sporadic or no payments,
- Telling the child the other parent is responsible because that’s what the child support is for, and
- Demanding an accounting of how the money is spent on a child.
This frequently leaves the child support recipient without enough money to cover essential bills and unforeseen expenses. And this leaves few other option than to head back to the courthouse and file a Motion for Enforcement of Child Support.
Non-payment in Texas
Non-payment of child support in Texas can have many consequences. Some possible consequences include:
- Jail for up to 180 days (for each violation in some cases),
- A $500.00 fine for each violation,
- Community supervision (probation),
- Criminal charges,
- Suspension of a professional or vocational license,
- Suspension of a driver’s license, passport, vehicle registration tags,
- Garnishment of wages, bank accounts, and other assets,
- Liens on any real property, and
- Payment of the other parent’s attorney’s fees.
These are steep penalties indeed, but frequently necessary to get that control-freak parent to start paying the child support again.
The law requires the pleadings in an enforcement action to be extremely specific, not to mention all of the other requirements after filing. So, I highly recommend hiring an experienced attorney to represent you. When I defend against an enforcement, I look for flaws in the pleadings in addition to other requirements, in order to have the case dismissed (usually with great success). Recently, because I attacked the pleadings in a frivolous enforcement action, the court awarded my client attorney’s fees – saving my client from the unnecessary expense.
In a situation where I am prosecuting an enforcement case, I always ask for the Obligor to pay my attorney’s fees. This is because the Texas Family Code provides for attorney’s fees “as additional child support” in child support enforcement actions. When the Obligor pays the fees, I reimburse my client for the fees the Obligor paid.
One Recent Example
I recently tried a case where the Obligor completely embodied the above description of control-freak. The Obligor refused to pay regularly until an enforcement action was served. At that point, the Obligor decided it was a good idea to pay the child support arrearage. I tried to settle the issue of attorney’s fees, which was only about $3,000.00 at the time. The Obligor refused to settle. And they decided it was a good idea to stop paying medical support for the next several months.
So, I amended the enforcement action, served discovery, and deposed the Obligor. It was a bumpy ride, but we buckled up, continued our course of action, and eventually walked through the Courtroom door. At the end of the day it was a long hard fight. The Court ordered Obligor to pay my client’s attorney’s fees of almost $14,000.00 as child support. And the court placed them on community supervision. A successful outcome – much to my client’s satisfaction.
Reactive or Proactive
I usually tell my clients there’s very little justice in family law. The law is often reactive, not proactive. But not this day. This day the law was applied proactively and justice was served.
Get the Justice You Deserve
I’m Family Law Attorney and Divorce Litigator, Rachel Li. I care about my clients and work tirelessly to achieve exceptional results. I approach each case with respect, compassion and strength. Call me at (214) 616-3684 or contact me online to schedule a confidential consultation to discuss your divorce or family law case today.