What Can I Do If My Ex Won’t Pay Child Support?

What Can I Do If My Ex Won’t Pay Child Support? A divorce is already a messy and painful situation. There’s the division of property and assets, finding a new home, the emotional and financial stress of it all. Perhaps the most difficult part of a divorce is child custody. It’s hard enough having to put the child through the divorce, separating their parents, but coupled with a former partner who isn’t paying child support, it becomes a real pain. It’s not fair to make the child suffer because one of their parents isn’t willing to help support them. Fortunately, there are some ways to make sure your ex pays their child support, or be adequately disciplined for their lack of care.

Do I need an official child support order?

While it might seem obvious that the other parent of your child should help financially support their child, it is not required of them to pay anything to you unless you have a court order. If you have a court order already, go back and read through it to make sure that the amount and payment schedule are what you believe them to be. It’s important that you’re absolutely sure that your ex-spouse is actually violating the order. If you’re sure, then it’s time to move on to enforcing that order.

It’s not a great idea in most cases to depend on the kindness and care of your ex, especially if you had a messy and complicated divorce. It’s best to involve the law when it comes to providing care to your child in this case.

Can I modify a court order?

Perhaps your ex simply isn’t paying enough each month. If they’re paying the court-ordered amount and it still isn’t enough, you may wish to change the child support court order itself. However, there are some limitations to changing your order. If you want to modify the order, there has to have been significant changes in your, your child’s, or your ex’s life, such as:

  • Your ex is hiding assets or intentionally avoiding employment
  • Your ex’s financial situation significantly improves
  • Your child develops special medical or educational needs

Modifying a child support order can be beneficial to either the obligor (he or she that pays child support) or the obligee (he or she that is owed the child support), but either way the changes should be made in order to best care for the child.

What is an enforcement order?

Simply put, an enforcement order is legal action taken against your child’s parent to require them to pay child support. There are many disciplinary actions the offices of the Attorney General (AG) of Texas can take in order to make them fulfill their obligations.

  • Their license could be suspended. This includes any official, driving, fishing, and hunting licenses. This can be a great incentive for your ex to pay up. Their passport can be denied.
  • The AG can put liens on their “properties, bank accounts, retirement plans, life insurance plans, personal injury claims, insurance settlements or awards and other assets.”
  • Their credit can be damaged. If your ex isn’t paying child support, the AG has to report the amount they owe to credit reporting agencies.

If your ex won the lottery, the AG can take those winnings and apply them to the child support order, paying past due commitments.

Finally, your ex could be forced to pay fines for each payment they missed, or even go to jail for neglecting to pay on their child support. Under Texas law, they can be found in contempt of court and be placed into jail for up to six months. On top of that, if they are in violation of Texas penal code 25.05, then they’re committing a felony act of intentionally and knowingly failing to pay on their federal court order. This is known as criminal non-support, and they could be jailed for up to two years, and made to pay up to $10,000.

As you can see, there are many ways to enforce your ex’s child support court order when they won’t pay. Whether that be through modifying the court order itself, or seeking out the Attorney General to help discipline your child’s parent in order to make he or she pay current and past money owed.

Your child is priceless, and their care should be as well. You don’t have to financially support them on your own, especially when they have another parent who could be helping. If you are having trouble getting your ex to pay their child support, then you need a diligent and hard-fighting lawyer to help them make them do so.  Contact Mary Beth Harrell Law Firm at 254-680-4655. Our offices are located in Killeen and Copperas Cove in Central Texas. Feel free to fill out our contact form to schedule an appointment.