Saturday, August 30, 2014

Non-payment of child support

I've had this question come up several times this week.

One parent won't support their child.
Other parent needs money.

There are many options.

1. Texas Attorney General - free but very slow.

2. Hire a private attorney - more aggressive and you are treated as a person and not merely a number like the TX A G cases.

Here are a few child support "interesting" facts --

1. Texas legislature now limits how far you can go back to collect on child support.  It is currently 4 hours.

2.  Past-due child support is subject to a 6% interest rate.  (It used to be 12% many years ago and the legislature reduced it.)  If you don't pay child support, eventually you are paying interest on interest.  I had a man that owed $10,000 in past due child support.  His kids were in their mid 30's.  He eventually owed approximately $20,000 due to interest.  The TX A G's office intervened in his father's probate and got the money for his ex-wife.  He was really upset.

3.  If you lose your job or have less income, you need to file to modify the child support.  A written agreement between the parties is not enough.  A judge must modify the child support to make the change effective.

4.  If you give your ex money directly and you were ordered by a judge to pay through the TX Disbursement Unit in San Antonio, then a judge can find that all the money you handed to your ex was a "gift" -- you still owe 100% (plus 6% interest) for unpaid child support.  If you were ordered to do something the judge expects you to follow the order.  If ex signs a piece of paper (even notarized) it is not binding on the judge.

5. If you were ordered to pay child support and now the child lives with you, you need to modify the court order.

6.  If you go to jail, you still owe the child support plus 6% interest.  Jail does not mean you don't owe the money.  The Texas legislature expects all parents to support their children.

7. If your children are on Medicaid then the citizens of the State of Texas are paying for your children.  It might be free to you but the citizens of TX are paying for your children's health insurance.  The TX A G office is supposed to get reimbursement for this insurance.

8.  If you accept any sort of federal or state assistance, such as Medicaid, food stamps, WIC, housing, etc. if you carefully read the paperwork that you signed, it states that you have signed over your rights to allow the TX A G to collect money from the other parent.

If you don't want the government in "your business" then don't apply for any sort of help for your children or yourself.

9.  Once all children are over the age of 18 you can no longer be jailed for being past due in child support.  But the debt never goes away.  You might find that your social security payments are reduced when you retire or your estate owes it when you die.

10.  If you are past due in child support, your credit can be ruined, you can lose your driver's license, you cannot renew your passport and you won't receive a professional license.  I had a doctor call me because the State of TX would not issue his professional license to practice because he owed a lot of money in past due child support.  In order to get a professional license, he had to pay the money due.  He was really upset.  He did not pay child support for over 6 years while he was going to medical school.  Now he was between a rock and a hard place.  TX A G would not work with him.  They took a very hard approach to his case.

11.  If the parent ordered to pay child support won't pay then the person can be jailed or monetarily fine.  Read your paperwork under "warnings".  One guy refused to pay and the Harris County jail kept him.  Apparently he really was nasty and the person in charge of release actually called his ex's attorney to try to keep him in jail longer.  I don't know what he did but he stayed in jail way over 6 months.

12.  TX A G's computer will attach any bank account where your social security number is associated if you are past due in child support.  One man called me frantic, his son's college fund was "gone".  He had his social security number on the account, along with his son's.  The TX A G computer "grabbed" it.  The son was able to eventually prove that all the money in the account was his and that his father never put any money into the account -- but it took a couple of months for the son to get his college money back.  Be aware that if your ss# is on any bank account, due to the TX A G's excellent computer system, your money will be found and eventually "grabbed" then the burden falls upon you to try to get it back.

I know lots more "interesting" facts but 12 are plenty to scare you.

Child support is a serious obligation & there can be criminal issues if you don't pay your child support.

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