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Parents can get creative in pursuit of child support

Monday, May 21, 2018

Texas parents may be able to commiserate with a woman from a southeastern state who took the law into her own hands in an effort to collect child support arrears due her. A savvy parent tired of dealing with the ups and downs of family court and frustrated with her ex-husband refusing to pay child support, she alerted law enforcement to a little used law in her state that makes failure to pay child support a felony. The law has been used so little that it appears to be the first time it had ever been used in the woman's county.

The law states that someone who has the ability to pay, yet willfully fails to do so could face prison. It is a third-degree felony, with a conviction bringing a potential prison term of up to five years. The woman's ex-husband was arrested on the felony charge, subsequently pleaded no contest and has been sentenced to serve five years of probation. He also is required to pay $550 in child support per week and past due child support of $69,542.88 must be paid over the next five years. The man is also required to pay court costs and work community service each month for 25 hours, though the judge permitted him to avoid community service by paying $10 for each hour he wants to have waived.

The man claims that, since his arrest, he has not been able to afford the required payments. He also asserts that, though he tried, he was unable to have his child support payments reduced. However, the Assistant State Attorney countered that a judge has previously made a determination that the man had the financial means to pay the support but did not do so.

While this incident occurred in a neighboring state, it is yet another example of the lengths that governmental authorities will go to ensure court-ordered child support is paid. For those custodial parents in Texas seeking to collect child support arrears, the right advice may help cut through the red tape and recover what is rightfully due. Conversely, those non custodial parents who simply do not have the means to comply with a child support order may benefit from petitioning the appropriate court to prove that a substantial change in circumstances merits a downward modification.

Source: palmbeachpost.com, "Martin dad being forced to pay child support under rarely used law," Paul Ivice, July 19, 2012

• Our firm handles similar situations to the one discussed in this post. If you would like to learn more about our practice, please visit our Texas Child Support page.

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