Sometimes, a parent just will not follow the court orders. Perhaps that parent is refusing to pay child support. Perhaps he or she is refusing to allow the other parent to exercise time with the children. Maybe a parent fails to provide health insurance. Whatever the parent does, it usually is harmful for the child and the other parent.
Texas has strong penalties for refusing to live up to the court order. The failure to pay child support can be particularly painful. Two things can land you in jail in Texas family courts. One is not paying court-ordered child support and the other is obstruction of court-ordered possession of a child. I have seen many parents who are completely shocked when they first realize that their actions are sending them to jail.
Let's look at some of the things that a parent can do to enforce the obligations of the other parent:
- The strongest penalty for not paying child support is incarceration. If a child support obligor fails to pay his or her ordered child support, then the judge can sentence that person to jail. The sentence can be for a specific length of time or simply until the support is paid. A parent cannot be sentenced to jail if the parent has no assets or any way to get the money, but that is extremely rare.
- The non-paying parent can be ordered to pay the attorney fees of the complaining parent. These payments are in addition to the support payments. In fact, the failure to pay child support is one of the very few places in Texas law where attorney fees are mandatory.
- A lien can be placed on the property of the non-paying parent. The other parent can seize bank accounts, personal property and real property (except for the other parent's residence).
- The court can take away the driver's license, the hunting and fishing license, and most professional licenses of the non-paying parent. The judge is usually not very sympathetic to the argument that "if I can't work, I can't pay."
- The non-paying parent can be made to put up a bond to inure the payment of future child support.
IMPORTANTLY, just because current child support is no longer due, that does not mean that past due child support is no longer enforceable. The Fort Worth family law attorneys at the Bob Leonard Law Group are experienced at collecting child support even where the child is well past the age of 18.
Most of these penalties also apply to the refusal to allow possession or "visitation." Judges are particularly sensitive about each parent being allowed to have time with the child.
If the other parent is not meeting his or her obligations or if the other parent has accused you of not meeting yours, then you need representation by a skilled family law attorney. The stakes are high and the potential for not getting the result you want is great. The attorneys at the Bob Leonard Law Group have extensive experience in handling enforcement cases.