Enforcing a Child Support Order
If a parent isn’t making payments according to the child support order, the other parent to whom that child support is owed may go back to court and file an enforcement action. An enforcement action is where the parent asks the judge to make the other parent follow the support order and make the payments required under the child support order. The parent to whom the child support is owed can either file this action on their own and represent themselves in court or hire a private attorney to pursue the action on their behalf.
The judge can handle the enforcement action in various ways. The judge can fine or jail a delinquent parent for failing to comply with the court’s child support order. A judge might also require a delinquent parent to pay a portion of the outstanding child support as a condition of being released from jail. A judge may also under certain circumstances issue garnishment orders requiring the paying parent’s employer to deduct child support from that parent’s paychecks.
The Child Support Division (CSD) of the Office of the Attorney General also provides services that may assist both the parent that pays child support and to parent that who is entitled to receive the child payments. These services are provided to parents at no cost. Federal and state law require the CSD to provide these services, including:
- working with other states to collect child support if the paying parent moves away from Texas
- filing liens against the paying parent’s property and assets (like houses, land, and motor vehicles)
- suspending the paying parent’s driver’s license, professional licenses and certificates, and fish and game licenses
- intercepting lottery winnings, federal income tax refunds, and other state and federal monies that might be due to the paying parent
- filing a lawsuit against the paying parent and asking the judge to sentence the parent to jail and enter a judgment against the parent, and
- locating the paying parent’s employer and requiring the employer to deduct child support from paychecks (“wage withholding”)