Owing Child Support

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Image of diapers, money and a pacifier.
Easy ways you can learn whether or not you owe child support to your ex, need to negotiate arrears payments, and the consequences of owing child support.

If you haven’t had contact with your children but still want to do the responsible thing and pay child support, there are easy ways to find out whether or not you owe your spouse money. Owing child support can have legal consequences.

First, you need to search for specific information to find out if a child support order has been filed. You should also take note of when the order was filed for when you contact the court.

It is important to regularly check the mail to see if anything has arrived from a local court. A local court is likely to send a person a notification of a scheduled court date for a child support hearing. If nothing has arrived in the mail, you can visit or call the local court and ask if there is any pending information.

You will want to be aware of any back child support that you may owe. To gather this information, you can ask the children’s guardian or the local court. You may receive a Notice and Finding of Financial Responsibility, which is a form that informs an individual of back child support that they owe.

Can You Negotiate Back Child Support Arrears?

There are certain things that a state court may allow you to do if you are having trouble meeting child support payments due to a significant change in your financial situation. An experienced attorney can help you show that you want to pay child support but are having difficulty doing so. Even if you cannot pay the full amount, you should pay as much as you can to show your desire to make the payments.

Note that you must pay back child support even if your children are over 18.

Waiver Of Interest

You may be able to get the interest charges of your child support arrears waived. The state of Texas charges 6% annual interest on unpaid child support. However, you must submit a plan that shows how you are going to pay your back child support in a certain period of time.

Filing for bankruptcy does not mean you do not have to pay any back child support arrears owed.

Equitable Forgiveness

If your children lived with you during the time where you were supposed to make child support payments, the state court may forgive a part of your child support debt.

New Payment Schedule

You may request a new payment schedule that is more manageable for you. The court will generally grant it if you can show that you genuinely want to make your child support payments.

Settlement With Custodial Parents

The custodial parent may be willing to waive some of your child support debt if you can make a lump sum payment to settle the unpaid child support that you owe. However, the court must approve any settlement agreement you have with the custodial parent.

Correction Of Errors

If you have evidence to prove that the court is requesting the wrong amount of child support and keep records of your child support payments, you can request the court to recalculate the amount you owe.

Consequences Of Failure To Pay Child Support

There are many consequences on the federal and state level for not paying child support. Government databases are used to track people who have not paid child support.

Suspension Of Driver’s License

All states have the right to suspend the driver’s license of any parent owing child support. Your local or state child support enforcement agency regularly reports to the state Division of Motor Vehicles when a parent falls behind on their payments.

States can also suspend licenses by over 60 licensing agencies including professional, hunting and fishing licenses.

Denial Of Passport

The state child enforcement agency and Attorney General can deny your application to receive a passport if you owe at least $2,500 in child support, even if you are renewing your passport. Once you have made the payment owed, your state agency must report to the federal U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS). Your name can then be removed from their list and you can apply for a passport.

Wage Withholding

In many cases, states can ask an employer to remove child support money out of your paycheck. The state will then transmit the money to the custodial parent.

If you’re wondering how this happens, all employers must report their new hires to the state child support enforcement agency. This information is forwarded to the National Directory of New Hires. It has a government registry that matches the names of employees with the names of any parent who owes child support. This agency will set up income-withholding orders for parents who did not pay child support.


State authorities could place a lien on your property if you have not made your child support payment. This can include bank accounts, retirement accounts, personal injury awards, and insurance settlements.

Credit Bureau Reporting

The government is required by law to inform the credit reporting agencies about any amount of child support you owe and the amounts you have already paid.


States can intercept income tax refunds and lottery winnings to be paid to parents owing child support. If you have arrears of over $500 and the other parent has contacted the state agency for help, the state agency will notify the federal U.S. Department of the Treasury. The government then has the right to take money from your tax refund.

If you have an outstanding payment amount of over $150 and the custodial parent is on welfare, the U.S. Department of the Treasury will also be notified.

Public Child Evader Programs

Some states publish a “most wanted” list of parents owing child support. Typically, they request the public to forward them information about these people. The only way to have your name removed from the list is to make your payments.

Dismissal From Military Service

If you are a noncustodial parent in the military, you can be dismissed from service due to not paying child support.

Fines And Penalties

States have the right to impose fines and penalties for parents who do not pay their child support.

Jail Term

This is often the last resort as a noncustodial parent cannot work to earn the money needed to pay child support in jail. A state judge can find you in contempt of court and order a jail term of up to six months.

Under the Texas Penal Code, it is a criminal offense to knowingly miss child support payments and fail to provide for your child. This is punishable by up to two years in jail.

Parents who willfully fail to pay child support for a child who lives in another state and is the subject of a court order will be liable for prosecution under federal law. Federal authorities also handle child support issues regarding payments past due for more than 1 year or missed payments that exceed the amount of $5,000.

How Long Can You Owe Child Support?

Your ex can file a motion to enforce any time after you miss a payment. If an arrest warrant has been issued and you are at least six months behind on your payments, you might be part of the Child Support Evaders Program by the Office of the Attorney General in Texas. Texas law requires the Office of the Attorney General to publicly identify evaders owing child support. This program seeks tips from the public to locate parents who are avoiding their obligations.

Federal authorities can get involved if you have not made your payments for over two years.

Parents who do not see their children may be concerned about their kid’s financial needs, medical needs, and everyday expenses. Child support payments can help to cover these expenses. A person who has questions about disputes may wish to speak with an attorney. The attorney may also be able to provide information about the consequences of failure to pay child support.

If you did not receive the full amounts that are owed to you by the other parent, you can ask your attorney to file a motion to enforce the court order so you can pursue the payment through legal channels.

If you need help defending your claim, let the award-winning Family Law experts at Sean Lynch help you prepare your legal case. We have decades of experience in family law.

Contact us today for a no-cost case review.

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