Parents have a responsibility to provide financial support for their children. It’s not only the right thing to do, but it’s also a legal requirement. Unfortunately, many people don’t pay their former partner any child support or the total amount they were ordered to pay by a judge. The San Antonio child custody lawyers of Higdon, Hardy & Zuflacht, L.L.P. help clients pursue the child support payments they’re owed following a divorce.
According to the most recent statistics collected by the U.S. Census Bureau, approximately 21.9 million children under 21 years old have a parent living in another home. However, only 45.9% of custodial parents received the full amount of child support payments they were supposed to receive.
This is a major problem in the United States and could negatively impact the sons and daughters of divorced parents. When the custodial parent receives only part or none of the financial assistance they need, they may be unable to provide for their kids. It can become challenging to put food on the table, pay for education, and purchase daily necessities.
The San Antonio unpaid child support lawyers of Higdon, Hardy & Zuflacht, L.L.P. know the importance of ensuring your children are taken care of in every way possible, especially financially. When you hire us, we can review your case and pursue the total amount of money you’re owed from your ex-spouse. We have the experience and resources to bring them to court if necessary and argue your case in front of a judge.
You can depend on us to remain by your side and fight hard for what you and your child deserve. Call us for your initial consultation at (210) 349-9933 to learn more about our services.
Calculating Child Support
Various factors can determine who should pay child support and the dollar amount of those payments. The court will look at both parents’ incomes, how many kids they share, healthcare costs, and other necessary expenses. Typically, one or both parents must provide support until the child:
- Turns 18 or graduates from high school;
- Becomes emancipated by the court through the removal of disabilities of minority, through marriage, or another type of law; or
Both parents could have a legal obligation to support their child financially, but the parent that isn’t the primary conservator must provide support to cover specific needs, such as:
- Health insurance
- Dental insurance
According to Texas statute § 154.125, the guidelines for child support payments, based upon the resources of the person paying the support, are:
- 1 child – 20% of net resources
- 2 children – 25% of net resources
- 3 children – 30% of net resources
- 4 children – 35% of net resources
- 5 children – 40% of net resources
- 6 or more children – More than the required number for five children
If your former partner hasn’t made any child support payments or owes part of the ordered amount they were supposed to pay, Higdon, Hardy & Zuflacht, L.L.P. might be able to help. There are legal remedies you can seek to ensure you meet your child’s best interests.
Their health, happiness, and future are of the utmost importance. Our legal team can represent you in your case and find a way to ensure enforcement of any child support agreement or court order you have.
Child Support Evader Programs
The Office of the Attorney General operates a Child Support Evader Program aimed at locating child support evaders and enforcing the payment of unpaid child support. Federal law requires the Attorney General to identify delinquent parents meeting these conditions:
- There’s an issued arrest warrant
- The outstanding child support payments are over $5,000 ordered by the court
- Regular payments haven’t been made in the previous six months
- They’re purposely avoiding being apprehended
- There’s an available photograph
- The custodial parent signed a confidentiality waiver, allowing some of their case information to be made public
- The non-custodial parent isn’t receiving TANF benefits and is not involved in a bankruptcy case
Common actions the Attorney General can take to enforce a court order for child support are:
- Make the delinquent parent’s identity public by releasing photos of them
- Suspend all licenses, including their driver’s license, professional license, or fishing license
- Deny a renewed or new passport application
- Order an employer to deduct the amount they owe from their paycheck
- Intercept certain funds they receive, such as federal income taxes or lottery winnings
- Report the paid and owed child support amounts to credit reporting agencies
- File a civil lawsuit
- Pursue a criminal contempt case where they must serve a jail sentence until they make all delinquent payments
What Is Retroactive Child Support?
According to Texas statute § 154.009, retroactive child support is money a court could require a parent to pay for a prior period in which they didn’t help support their child. That could mean your ex-spouse might owe a significant amount of money if they haven’t been paying anything for several years.
The court can order retroactive child support if:
- The non-custodial parent wasn’t part of a lawsuit ordering financial support; and
- They weren’t ordered in the past to pay child support.
If there was already an order for payment of retroactive child support, the court could issue a new order if:
- The custodial parent sought a new child support order after separating from their partner;
- Marriage or remarriage terminated a previous child support order; and
- Separation of the parents occurred after marriage or remarriage.
Although many divorced couples might think they’re only required to provide support to their child if there’s an actual court order, the judge could still find the non-custodial parent responsible for making retroactive payments.
Issuing an Order for Retroactive Child Support
Texas law presumes four years of retroactive payments would be in the best interest of the child. Additional years might be required if the parent owing child support:
- Tried to avoid their obligation to their child; and
- Knew or should have known they were the child’s father.
The judge could consider other factors when determining if a parent should receive a court order for retroactive payments:
- The non-custodial parent’s current and prior financial situation
- Whether the non-custodial parent knew of their paternal status or their responsibility to provide payments
- The parent made previous payments or provided other necessities to their child
- Whether the custodial parent tried to inform their former partner of the financial responsibilities
- Issuing a retroactive child support order to the obligor could cause unnecessary financial hardships to them and their family
- If the non-custodial parent provided monetary or another type of support not in a court order
Typically, the court will base their decision on when retroactive payments should begin by reviewing:
- Whether the parents were together. If they weren’t, the period would start on the date the child was born.
- If the parents were together, the date of separation would be the start of retroactive child support.
The court will typically use the same guidelines for calculating child support as in other cases when determining how much the delinquent parent must pay retroactively. They will use the formula based on the parent’s net monthly income and how many children they share with the custodial parent, then add up the number of months that payments should have been made.
Consequences of Failing to Make Child Support Payments
There are severe consequences for not paying child support. Besides the penalties issued by the Attorney General, such as driver’s license suspension and withholding wages, the offender could face hefty fines and up to two years in jail.
Two scenarios could land a delinquent parent in jail:
- Violating a court order to pay child support could result in a judge finding the parent in contempt of court and issuing a six-month jail sentence.
- Violating Texas Penal Code 25.05by knowingly or intentionally failing to pay support for a minor child under court order could lead to a jail sentence between six months and two years. There could also be a maximum $10,000 fine.
The accumulation of owed child support never ends until the parent makes payments. Even after the child turns 18, the parent who never received support or didn’t receive the total amount required could still pursue a case.
It’s critical that you hire an experienced San Antonio unpaid child support lawyer as soon as you stop receiving payments from your former partner or notice that the payments aren’t the agreed-upon or court-ordered amount. You might feel guilty about bringing your case to court, but you deserve all the money you’re owed to ensure your child’s stability, health, and safety.
At Higdon, Hardy & Zuflacht, L.L.P., we have a team of dedicated and compassionate San Antonio unpaid child support lawyers that will fight hard for the money you’re owed. Raising a child is stressful enough without the additional burden of struggling to provide for their basic needs. You will have someone in your corner advocating for your rights and the rights of your son or daughter.
If you want to find out more about how we can help you seek child support payments from your former spouse, do not hesitate to contact Higdon, Hardy & Zuflacht, L.L.P. immediately. We can review your case, develop the right legal strategy, and begin the process of recovering the financial assistance necessary to meet your child’s best interests.
Call us now at (210) 349-9933 for an initial consultation or reach out to us online. We’re available 24/7 to discuss your legal options and provide the guidance you need.