Enforcement of Child Support Judgements

The courts are given special contempt powers to enforce judgments obtained in family law cases. This would  commonly appear in non-payment of child support, in not providing for health insurance for minor children as ordered in a governing order, in not allowing for access to and possession of children, in not paying maintenance under Chapter 8 of the Texas Family Code and in failure to turnover property as ordered in a governing decree. However, this article addresses only non-payment of child support. 

The term “contempt” should wave a red flag. It means the court could, under certain cases, even order that a non-compliant party be confined in jail!!

If a party is not receiving court ordered child support that party can bring suit to hold the “obligor” in contempt of court.  The party seeking to enforce collection of past-due child support would file suit and cause the non-compliant obligor to be physically served with notice of the suit and with an order to appear in court to answer the allegation of non-payment. 

If a party has been served with a suit and an order to appear and does not appear, the court could issue a capias.  This means the person could be picked up and placed in confinement and brought before the court.  The court could even require as bond to release the obligor, payment of all or a substantial portion of past-due child support.   This gives rise to the common phrase, “The check is in the jail”. 

In most cases the court will issue a confirmation of past-due child support and an order for payment of the confirmed arrears, often subjecting the non-compliant obligor to confinement but suspending that confinement to allow the obligor to make payments against the past-due support. This could include community supervision along with the payments. 

The child support judgment could even be enforced by the placement of judgment liens against non-exempt property and by levies, seizing non-exempt properties.  The Texas Attorney General can even place an IRS intercept against an obligor so that if there is a refund forthcoming to that obligor when he or she files a tax return the AG would intercept that refund. 

The court retains jurisdiction to render a contempt order for failure to comply with the child support order if the motion for enforcement is filed non later than the second anniversary  of the date the child  becomes an adult; or on which the child support obligation  terminates under the order or by operation of law.  

If you are facing an action for non-payment of child support you need to contact an attorney for help!!  As an El Paso divorce lawyer, I have had years of experience in pursuing cases for non-payment of child support and in defending obligors in child support cases.  Call us at 915-593-6600 or at 915-256-0579.   If you have been served with an Order to Appear call us.