The Common Law

Child Support – Trouble Getting Paid?

The father of my child has stopped making child-support payments and refuses to pay. How can the government help me start receiving payments again?

You should contact the Child Support Division of the Texas Attorney General's Office. The AG's office can help in situations like yours when one parent refuses to pay child support.

The Child Support Division uses several methods to help Texas parents collect on unpaid child support. For example, the most common way to enforce payment is to require the employer of the deadbeat parent to withhold wages from each paycheck and use the withheld money to pay for child support. The Child Support Division can also try to intercept money that may be due the parent from state and federal sources – like federal income tax refund checks.

Another way the Child Support Division can help you put pressure on the other parent to pay child support is by suspending state-issued licenses. Any state licensing authority can suspend the license of a deadbeat parent. The parent may be more likely to start paying child support if he or she can't drive (suspended driver's license), work (suspended professional license), or have fun on the weekends (suspended hunting or fishing license). The AG's Child Support Division can also file a lien against the nonpaying parent's property or a lawsuit that essentially asks the court to enforce the court order requiring child support.

Will the Attorney General's Office represent me in getting child support? How long will it take for me to start receiving child-support payments?

The attorneys in the Texas Attorney General's Office's Child Support Division do not represent either parent in a child-support matter. The AG's Child Support Division does, however, encourage parental responsibility by providing services for the benefit of Texas children. The fundamental services provided by the Child Support Division include locating absent parents; establishing paternity; establishing, enforcing, and modifying child and medical support orders; and collecting and distributing child-support monies.

You can submit an application to receive these services with Child Support Division field offices throughout the state. You can also get the application by calling the AG's office at 800/252-8014.

Please submit column suggestions, questions, and comments to thecommonlaw@austinchronicle.com. Submission of potential topics does not create an attorney-client relationship, and any information submitted is subject to being included in future columns.

Marrs, Ellis & Hodge LLP, www.jmehlaw.com.

The material in this column is for informational purposes only. It does not constitute, nor is it a substitute for, legal advice. For advice on your specific facts and circumstances, consult a licensed attorney. You may wish to contact the Lawyer Referral Service of Central Texas, a non-profit public service of the Austin Bar Association, at 512-472-8303 or www.austinlrs.com.

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