While most litigants strive to faithfully comply with court orders, sometimes they don’t. Child support payments are missed. Medical bills are not paid. Visitation schedules are ignored. Harassing phone calls and text messages continue unabated. These are examples of violations of court orders that frequently arise in family law litigation. If a party is not complying with the terms of a court order, whether a temporary order or a final order, you may file a motion for child support enforcement. For example, if the party ordered to pay child support fails to make payments in accordance with the terms of the court’s order, the party entitled to receive the support payments may file a motion for enforcement. Enforcement actions are not limited to child support. Possession schedules and any other provision of your order may be enforced through enforcement action.
If your child’s noncustodial parent refuses to comply with this type of court order, an Austin child support enforcement lawyer could help you recover the funds you need to provide for your child’s needs. Our attorneys could review your case and determine what option best supports your situation.
Filing an Enforcement Order in Austin
A motion for enforcement must identify the provision of the order allegedly violated, state the manner of the respondent’s alleged noncompliance, and state the relief requested by the movant (the party filing the motion).
Orders relating to child support and possession of and access to a child may be enforced by contempt. This means that a party failing to comply with a court order may be imprisoned until the party complies with the court’s order. Thus, a party who fails to pay child support may be imprisoned until he or she pays the child support arrearages. In reality, courts seldom send violators to jail, at least for a first offense. But the threat of jail is usually enough to inspire compliance and deter further violations. Importantly, if you prevail in your child support enforcement action in Austin, you may recover from the respondent whatever attorneys’ fees you incurred to bring the action.
Methods of Enforcing a Child Support Order
When a noncustodial parent fails to pay the child support for which they are legally responsible, the Texas Attorney General Office’s Child Support Division may institute various enforcement measures. These measures are designed to collect past-due and current payments from the noncustodial parent. An attorney in Austin could help a parent with child support enforcement by getting this agency involved. Some of the methods that the Child Support Division may use to secure missing support payments include:
- Liens against the noncustodial parent’s property
- Suspending the noncustodial parent’s driver’s, professional, or hunting and fishing licenses
- Suing the noncustodial parent
- Garnishing wages from the noncustodial parent’s paycheck
- Intercepting funds from state or federal sources, such as lottery winnings or income tax returns
Texas Attorney General’s Office Child Support Evader Program
For situations in which it is difficult to locate a parent who has been avoiding their court-ordered child support obligations, the Texas Office of the Attorney General’s Child Support Evader Program seeks public help in tracking down these evaders. There is a public website that features the evaders’ names, the amount of child support they owe, the number of children for which they owe the funds, and a photo of the evader. For each entry, there is a link to a survey that the public can complete to assist the Attorney General’s Office with tracking them down. This program exclusively focuses on parents who meet the following conditions:
- The noncompliant parent owes more than $5,000 in delinquent court-ordered child support
- There is a warrant out for the noncompliant parent’s arrest
- The noncompliant parent has been avoiding apprehension
- The noncompliant parent has not made any regular child support payments in the past six months
- The noncompliant parent does not receive Temporary Assistance for Needy Families benefits and is not involved in bankruptcy proceedings
- The custodial parent has signed a confidentiality waiver releasing certain private information
- A photograph of the noncompliant parent is available
The Texas Attorney General’s website also includes a list of child support evaders who have been arrested and apprehended as a result of assistance from the public. In serious child support enforcement cases such as these, a dedicated Austin lawyer could help a parent through the complicated legal process.
Speak with an Austin Child Support Enforcement Attorney
Regardless of who has primary custody of a child, both parents are responsible for providing financial support to their shared child. If your co-parent is not complying with your child support order, there are ways to recover what they owe. Contact an Austin child support enforcement lawyer for more information about the options available to your family.