Steps to Take if a Parent Fails to Pay Child Support Payments


When a parent fails to meet their child support obligations, the repercussions can be distressing for both the custodial parent and the child. At Coldwell Bowes, we understand the complexities of this situation and are dedicated to providing you with the necessary guidance and support to navigate through these challenging times. Here are the essential steps to consider if a parent fails to pay child support payments in Texas, along with actionable legal options you may consider, crucial information you may need to gather, and alternative solutions to consider before heading to court.

Child Support Laws in Texas 

In most cases, the non-custodial parent is ordered to pay child support. Typically this is the parent that spends the least amount of time with the child, although Texas courts can order either parent to pay child support. Child support is based on statutory calculations depending on the number of children before the Court and any other children the non-custodial parent has. For example, if the non-custodial parent only has one child, child support is calculated from 20% of the net income of the non-custodial parent.  Each additional child results in an additional 5% increase in payments. This is not the case in every situation, as circumstances such as a medically dependent child, intentional underemployment, or high wage earners can result in the Court deviating from the child support guidelines. 

The takeaway is there are standards for how child support is calculated, and courts can take into account the unique circumstances of your situation, and come to the best possible outcome for you and your child. Once ordered, the non-custodial parent is legally obligated to make those payments in a timely fashion. 

Gather Information

Begin by gathering all relevant documentation related to the child support agreement, including court orders, payment history, and any communication with the non-paying parent. With the proper information, your immediate next step should be to contact an attorney. It’s important to have an attorney speaking on your behalf so payments do not continue to back up further, and you will not have to wait as long to receive your payments. Having a thorough understanding of the specifics of the child support arrangement is crucial in building a strong case. 

Discuss Your Options

It is possible that payments may need to be adjusted or amended. Although everyone’s circumstances are different, it's important to consider the variables that may be affecting the parents' missed payments. Your attorney should guide you in facilitating a rational conversation between you and your ex. If you are not comfortable or meeting with your ex puts you or your child at risk, have your attorney meet on your behalf. 

In situations where the parent fails to pay child support is not open to discussion, your attorney can file a motion to enforce child support with a court on your behalf. This may lead to a judge finding your ex in contempt of court for violating their court order to make payments, or in more extreme situations, a judge may issue a fine, confinement in jail,  or issue a warrant for their arrest if they fail to appear to Court..  

What Are the Possible Penalties for Not Paying Child Support?

There are a few penalties that the non-paying parent may face when extremely behind on their payments. The Attorney General may:

  • Suspend licenses (including drivers, recreational or professional)
  • Deny their renewal of vehicle registration.
  • Deny their renewal of passport 
  • Put liens on property, bank accounts and retirement plans 
  • Report them to credit bureaus
  • Intercept their paychecks or other forms of payment (e.g. lottery winnings, tax refunds)
  • Enforce civil fines 
  • Order jail time

What Not to Do

Avoid taking matters into your own hands or engaging in confrontational interactions with the non-paying parent. Refrain from withholding visitation rights or using the child as leverage to enforce child support payments, as these actions can negatively impact the well-being of the child and complicate the legal process.  It is important to note that Texas Law specifically prohibits withholding of visitation due to non-payment of child support.   It is important to follow Court orders for visitation despite the non-paying parent being delinquent on child support.


At Coldwell Bowes, we are committed to advocating for the best interests of you and your child. Our experienced legal team is equipped to provide you with comprehensive guidance and dedicated support throughout the process of addressing a parent who fails to make child support payments in Texas. Contact us today to learn more about how we can help you navigate this complex situation with compassion and expertise.

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