Recently the Texas Attorney General proposed a new way to enforce child support payments in Texas.  In an attempt to use every tool that is available to them, the Texas Attorney General’s office will enforce their authority by blocking a parent who has not paid child support in the past six months from registering their car.

It is important to distinguish that these actions were not proposed in a bill or piece of legislation but will be enforced by the Texas Attorney General’s requirement by law to establish, enforce and modify child support orders.

However, while some are praising this measure and policy other family law attorneys are concerned with how far this measure will go and what negative impacts it could have one some parents. Many parents who have delinquent child support payments are unable to afford the payments imposed by the court. Some attorneys are concerned that this measure will prevent people from driving and being able to be gainfully employed, thereby making it harder to catch up on their payments.  However, the Attorney General’s Office has stated that this is just a means of working with parents and that they have a dedicated phone line where a parent who has not paid child support and will not be able to register their car will be able to set up a repayment plan.

Consequences of not paying Child Support

Under the Texas Family Code, if a parent does not pay child support then the attorney general’s office is empowered to revoke a driver’s license, professional and recreational license.

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The Attorney Generals proclamation will add a new layer and a certain penalty to parents who have not paid child support for at least six months, it now means that they will not be able to register their cars, which could impede their ability to work.  In addition, the judge may enter a judgment with interest in the amount of child support. A child support payment constitutes a final judgment for the amount due and owed, plus interest at the rate of six percent per annum (meaning year). In addition, a judge may impose a lien on a delinquent parent’s real and personal property. This can include a parents bank accounts, stocks and bonds, insurance proceeds, retirement amounts, and even vehicles.

What Factors Does the Court Consider when Determining the Amount of Child Support

Under the Texas Family Code, a parent is required to pay another person to help support his or her child. All parents have a legal duty to make financial payments to support their children. Even absent a court order it is expected that a parent will contribute to their child.  When a martial relationship breaks down and the parents separate often as part of the divorce proceedings there is a large section of the proceedings that is devoted to determining child support and the amount that one or both parents will have to pay.

Most people pay child support based on a percentage of their net income and For a parent who has no other children outside the current court proceedings, the percentage to be applied is as follows:

  • 20% for 1 child,
  • 25% for 2 children,
  • 30% for 3 children,
  • 35% for 4 children,
  • 40% for 5 children,
  • Not less than 40% for 6 or more children.

The court may also consider other factors to reach their determination on how much child support a parent is obligated to make including the following:

  • the child's age and needs;
  • the parent's ability to contribute to the child's support;
  • any financial resources available for the child support;
  • the Obligee's (person receiving child support) net resources and earning potential;
  • child care expenses;
  • whether either party has actual physical custody of another child;
  • the amount of alimony or spousal maintenance;
  • the child's educational expenses;
  • employee benefits such as housing or a company car;
  • health insurance and uninsured medical expenses for the child;
  • extraordinary educational, health care or other expenses of the child;
  • travel expenses incurred to exercise visitation;
  • positive or negative cash flow from real or personal property, and assets like businesses or investments;
  • any other reason consistent with the best interest of the child,
  • taking into consideration the circumstances of the parents.

What Can you do if You Cannot Afford Your Child Support Payments

As stated above, it is an obligation on all parents to make child support payments, however as also noted there is a concern that parents who are already unable to afford their child support payments will not be able to catch up at all if they do not have a car and an ability to legally drive.  Fortunately, there are well-established policies and procedures that a parent can employ if they cannot afford their child support payment.

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Child Support payments can be modified through a court hearing or through a process known as Child support review process (CSRP).  Generally, a child support order may be modified if:

  • It has been three or more years since the order was established or last modified and the monthly amount of the child support ordered differs by either 20 percent or $100 from the amount that would be awarded according to child support guidelines; or
  • A material and substantial change in circumstances have occurred since the child support order was last set.

Under the Texas Family Code a material and substantial change in circumstances means that at least the noncustodial parent’s income has either increased or decreased, the noncustodial parent is legally responsible for additional children, the children’s medical insurance coverage has changed, or the children’s living arrangements have changed.

An Experienced Houston Family Law Attorney Is Ready To Help

If you are concerned that you will not be able to renew your vehicle registration because of the Attorney General’s new policy or you would like to modify your child support obligations or payments contact the Houston family law attorneys at Queenan Law to set up a free legal consultation about your family law matter at (817) 476-1797.