Collecting Child Support in Texas
One of the biggest problems that my clients have after an initial agreement regarding caring for children in a divorce or paternity matter is collecting child support. After all, the court ordered it, he/she has to pay it regularly, right?
The answer is, yes, that is the expectation both of the person who is receiving child support and the court. However, collecting can be a problem for several reasons. He/she loses a job, experiences sickness, cannot work for whatever reason, or simply chooses not to pay. And a month or several months go by and there is no payment.
The most common process to collect is a motion for contempt against the party not paying. The motion, filed in the same court that gave the order for support, requires proving beyond a reasonable doubt that the other person did not pay. This sounds harder than it usually is in practice. A certified record of the payments made (missed) from the Attorney General's office noting the dates that payment weren't made is put into evidence, and testimony of the order that required payments is about all that is needed. Then the burden is on the other party to refute that evidence. Often, the party who didn't pay wants to make it about ‘why' they didn't pay. That may sway some judges into not giving jail time, but the judge still must give a judgment for the unpaid support and order it paid. If there is an amount that is owed, the judge is also to order him/her to pay your attorney's fees and court costs.
The problem with waiting on child support is that it is only going to get worse; he/she will wait longer, the amount owed will get larger, and collection will not get any easier. I suggest to my clients to contact their ex- when a payment is missed to try to resolve it and make arrangements for getting caught up. If a second payment is missed, if there is no real reason (sickness, firing, laid off…) it is time to start considering the motion for contempt of court. Your children and you deserve it.