Can I Deny Child Visitation if My Ex Is Behind on Child Support?

If your spouse is behind on paying child support, you are not alone. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, about $33.7 billion in back child support was due in 2015. Less than 45% of custodial parents reported receiving the full amount of child support due. That equates to a lot of frustrated parents!

A late child support payment does not give a custodial parent the right to violate other aspects of the divorce agreement. For help to enforce child support in the Katy, TX area, contact The Springer Law Firm.

Consequences of Violating Visitation Agreements

Despite the fact your ex is behind on child support payments, you will be held accountable for denying them the right to see their child as outlined in your divorce decree. You might think of that action as tit-for-tat, but the court sees child support and visitation as two separate issues.

Your former spouse can file an enforcement action of their own. A judge can impose a fine on you, creating a no-win situation since you are already short of custody payments. In addition to the fine, a judge has within their right to sentence you to jail or hold that possibility over you if you don’t comply with visitation. Your ex can also be awarded extra visitation to make up for any lost parenting time.

Rights of Custodial Parents to Child Support

Texas Family Code outlines child support, including how the amount is calculated and how it is to be paid. The federal Child Support Enforcement Act of 1984 gives state attorneys general and state attorneys the authority to collect back support on behalf of the custodial parent.

Enforcement measures against a delinquent parent can include the following:

  • Freezing their bank accounts
  • Garnishing their wages
  • Reporting them to the credit bureaus
  • Placing a lien against their home or other property
  • Suspending their driver’s license
  • Suspending a professional license
  • Charging them with civil or criminal contempt

The Uniform Interstate Family Support Act of 2008 makes child support orders enforceable in other states. If your spouse moves out of Texas, their new home state must enforce the original order. If a modification to the order is needed, the new state must comply with the laws of the Lone Star State.

Child Support Cannot Be Discharged in Bankruptcy

Another protection for a custodial parent is the inability of past-due child support to be discharged through bankruptcy. Their former spouse cannot have this debt forgiven and erased like is possible with a credit card and other consumer debt. If your ex files for bankruptcy, an automatic stay is placed on most owed debts. A bankruptcy action does not stop child support enforcement measures from moving forward.

Modifications to Child Support

Most parents aren’t withholding child support payments out of spite (though that does happen). They might have lost a job, suffered a medical emergency, or endured some other hardship. In these cases, a child support modification might be appropriate.

We take a comprehensive, global view when helping a parent recover unpaid child support:

  • Determine the true past-due amount
  • Address potential modification
  • Evaluate child custody concerns

Our goal is to help both parents live up to their financial and emotional obligations to their children.

Legal Counsel for Child Support Enforcement

At The Springer Law Firm, we are a neighborhood law firm that treats all our Katy-area clients with respect. Child support is crucial to helping the children of our community thrive. If your former spouse has not made their support payments or if you are unable to live up to your obligations, contact us right away. We have more than 85 years of collective experience handling family law concerns such as these.

Schedule a free consultation to discuss with us your child support concerns. Submit our online form or call us at (281) 990-6025.

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