Five Child Support Enforcement Tools in Texas
The Lone Star State has one of the highest child support delinquency rates in the country. Less than half of all obligees receive the full amount owed, and nearly a third receive nothing at all. Many residential parents live hand to mouth. So, this loss of income is often a nearly devastating blow.
Technically, the Attorney General has jurisdiction over child support enforcement matters. But this agency is often slow to respond. Additionally, the Attorney General represents the state as opposed to individual obligees. So, the residential parent might have little or no input as to the strategy the AG uses.
A Houston family law attorney, on the other hand, directly represents obligees. Additionally, an attorney is much more responsive to a family’s needs. So, if the obligor owes back child support, an attorney-client partnership is usually the best alternative.
Some obligors fall behind on payments because they think no one is watching. That’s especially true if the obligor lives out-of-state or is self-employed.
In these situations, a demand letter is often ideal. A letter from an attorney usually has considerable power. A statement of delinquency, along with subtle threats of additional actions, often convinces the obligor to start making regular payments.
Demand letters are also unobtrusive. More aggressive collection tactics might trigger an unwanted response. But demand letters never throw gasoline onto the fire.
Child Support Lien
Property or credit liens are also unobtrusive. By themselves, they mean nothing. But eventually, the obligor will try to transfer the property or borrow money. At that point, the obligor must deal with the lien. And, the obligee has the negotiating edge. Normally, obligees agree to release the lien if the obligor pays some of the delinquency upfront and agrees to a payment plan for the remainder.
Most divorce decrees and other support orders include latent wage garnishment orders. To bring these orders to life, obligees normally must only pay a small fee and provide payroll information.
That second component is easier said than done. Many companies use out-of-state payroll processors. Simply serving the withholding order on the obligor’s employer might not achieve the desired result. In fact, it might have the opposite effect. The obligor might suddenly leave his job if he knows an attorney is on his trail.
In Texas, most obligees can garnish up to 50 percent of an obligor’s disposable income to cover current child support and past-due amounts.
Many people get significant tax refund checks in the spring. Other people receive annuity payments or periodic mortgage escrow refunds. If the payee owes back child support, an attorney might be able to redirect these payments to partially satisfy the child support delinquency. Many other government payments, such as disability payments, are exempt.
No one wants to see obligors go to jail because they owe child support. In fact, the practice is borderline illegal. But if other collection efforts have failed and the obligor deliberately ignores a court order to pay, the obligee might have no other alternative. If obligors face jail time, it’s often amazing how quickly they come up with money and how quickly they agree to payment plans.
Work with a Tenacious Lawyer
If your ex owes child support, do something about it. For a confidential consultation with an experienced Houston child support attorney, contact Lindamood & Robinson, P.C., Attorneys at Law. We routinely handle matters in Harris County and nearby jurisdictions.