Child-Support Enforcement in Texas

In Texas, both parents are expected to provide financial support for their child. The Texas Office of the Attorney General is responsible for enforcing child support payments, and the agency has several tools available to help parents make and collect regular and overdue child-support payments.

According to the Child Support Division of the Texas Attorney General, its mission is to assist parents in getting the financial support necessary for their children to succeed in life. To support this mission, the Attorney General "vigorously enforces" child-support orders.

Child-Support Enforcement Tools

In general, the parent without custody of a child pays child support to the custodial parent for the child's benefit. If child support is not paid, the Child Support Division may step in to help the custodial parent collect his or her child support.

The agency uses several methods to ensure that child support is paid. The most common approach, wage withholding, requires the employer of a parent who owes child support to deduct the amount of child support ordered by a court from that parent's paycheck.

The Child Support Division also may take money from lottery winnings or intercept federal income tax refund checks to collect child-support payments.

If a parent has not paid child support for more than three months, the Child Support Division may suspend the parent's state licenses, including his or her:

  • Driver's license
  • Hunting and fishing license
  • Legal, medical or dental license

In addition, the agency may file a lawsuit against a parent to enforce his or her child support order. Parents who do not pay court-ordered child support may be sentenced to serve time in jail.

Child-Support Modification

In situations where a parent has had a substantial change in circumstances, such as loss of his or her job, or promotion to a much higher-paying job, a child-support order may be modified. Child-support modification requires a court hearing, and the assistance of a knowledgeable attorney is invaluable when seeking changes to court-ordered child support.

If you have questions about child-support payment, enforcement or modification, contact an experienced family law attorney in your area.