Is the Child Support Order Still Enforceable?
In a Texas divorce where there are minor children, the court will generally order the non-custodial parent to pay child support to the custodial parent. All Texas child support orders include an income withholding order, requiring the non-custodial parent’s employer to make periodic payments to the state child support enforcement agency or a local registry.
Non-custodial parents who are self-employed may withhold and pay child support in a similar fashion or may opt to pay child support directly to the other parent. Paying the child support directly may, however, be a risky proposition, as you’ll have to keep detailed records of payments made, in the event your ex alleges failure to pay child support. If you make payments to the state child support enforcement agency or the local registry, they will maintain records of all payments.
In most divorce proceedings in Texas, the obligation to pay child support ends when the minor child turns 18 or when he/she graduates from high school, whichever comes later. It’s pretty common, though, for a non-custodial parent to fall behind in child support payments. When the arrearage becomes substantial, making it impossible to pay it off in a lump sum, you may be able to negotiate an agreement, allowing you to make installment payments on your arrearage (in addition to your court-ordered support payments). But what happens when the minor child turns 18? Will you still have responsibility for the child support payments?
Your Child Support Obligation Remains Enforceable until the Arrearage is Fully Paid
The fact that your minor child has reached the age of majority has no impact on your obligation to pay court-ordered child support. The income withholding order will remain in force until the arrearage is fully satisfied. Unless you petition the court to reduce the amount of your periodic payments, you will continue to have the same amount withheld. Of course, because you no longer have an ongoing support obligation, the entire payment will be applied to your arrearage.
If you choose to make payments directly to your spouse, you’ll still have to pay all arrearages after your child turns 18. You may be able to negotiate lower periodic payments, spreading the arrearage out over a longer period of time. However, if you fail to pay the arrearage, your ex-spouse can petition the court to take a number of measures, including:
- Interception of your federal or state tax return
- Suspension of business, drivers, professional or hunting/fishing licenses
- Suspension of your passport
- Garnishment of any lottery winnings
- A contempt of court order (with the potential to serve jail time)
Contact the Divorce and Family Law Attorneys at Bailey & Galyen
At the law office of Bailey & Galyen, we offer a free initial consultation to every client. For an appointment with an experienced Texas divorce and family law attorney, contact us by e-mail or call our offices at 844-402-2992. We will take your call 24 hours a day, seven days a week.