The last post on our Dallas family law blog discussed the recent ruling in Halle Berry’s child support case and briefly mentioned options for parents who cannot afford their monthly payments. While the law does provide for some flexibility when it is absolutely necessary, our Dallas readers should not get the wrong idea: child support is a legal obligation and Texas takes child support enforcement seriously.
In fact, according to the federal Office of Child Support Enforcement, Texas leads the nation in child support collection. Our attorney general’s office collected over $3.6 billion in fiscal year 2013. That places us at the top not only in raw dollars, but in terms of the amount collected per agency employee and cost effectiveness as well. Attorney General Abbott noted that this remarkable success does more than just help support children in Texas; it keeps taxpayers from having to foot the bill for delinquent payments.
How, our Dallas readers may wonder, does the state’s Child Support Division do it? What steps does the agency take in child support enforcement and collection?
For one thing, the agency can help custodial parents locate the other parent if that parent tries to disappear in violation of a support agreement. For parents who were not married at the time of a child’s birth, the Child Support Division can help them establish paternity (see our blog post from May 21 for more information about this and how it relates to child support). Other actions like wage garnishment and intercepting tax refunds are also on the table.
Penalties like license suspension and jail may ultimately be necessary, although those unfortunately tend to make it less likely that non-custodial parents will be able to make the payments that they were not making in the first place. Nevertheless, it is clear that Texas will not turn a blind eye on non-payment of court-ordered child support. Custodial parents may wish to consult with a legal professional if they are not receiving the monthly payments to which they are entitled.
Source: KGNS, “Texas Attorney General’s Child Support Division leads the nation in child support collections,” Matt McGovern, June 11, 2014