Enforcing TX child support can be complicated when a parent relocates

In Texas, state child support enforcement services include finding absent parents, but a parent’s relocation can make enforcement challenging.

After a divorce, many Dallas parents make every effort to fulfill their responsibilities and stay involved in their children's lives. However, some parents fail to cooperate with court orders or provide their children with financial support. When this happens, the Office of the Attorney General's Child Support Division steps in to enforce child support orders. Unfortunately, the enforcement process can become complicated when one parent is absent or has relocated.

Enforcement measures

The Office of the Attorney General can take various steps to ensure that children and custodial parents receive due support. Once a non-custodial parent stops paying child support, the custodial parent can request enforcement services from the OAG. The OAG may use several measures to forcibly collect overdue support from the non-custodial parent, including the following:

  • Intercepting state or federal payments to the parent, including tax refunds and lottery winnings
  • Placing liens against property that the parent owns
  • Directly taking payments from the parent's pending paychecks through wage withholding
  • Suspending the parent's driver's license and any professional or recreational licenses
  • Filing a lawsuit, which may result in jail time and a judgment for overdue support

If a non-custodial parent is absent, the OAG works to locate the parent based on the parent's personal information. This includes age, Social Security number, personal relationships and personal interests. Although this approach is often effective, it may fall short when parents have crossed state liens or entered temporary living situations.

Relocation issues

One Texas parent's story illustrates the complications that can arise in these situations. According to KRGV News, the custodial parent has struggled for years to collect support from the other parent. The absent parent was recently found staying at a motel in Texas. However, the parent's last known official address was in California. When that address was registered, the parent's case was passed on to the attorney general in California.

Due to this change, the OAG in Texas currently lacks authority to serve the absent parent with a court order. If this parent becomes officially employed in Texas, the case should pass back to the OAG. The same is true if the non-custodial parent takes up residence under a real address. Otherwise, enforcements depend on the attorney general in California.

Only about 10 percent of Texas child custody cases are transferred out of the state, according to the OAG. Delinquency is reportedly rare in those cases. Furthermore, Texas has one of the highest rates of successful collection of overdue child support, according to the KRGV News. Still, this case helps illustrate the complications that can arise when parents refuse to comply with support orders.

Seeking legal assistance

Consulting with an attorney can be a beneficial step for anyone facing issues with unpaid child support in Texas. Enforcing support orders can be a difficult and confusing process, especially when there are complicating factors such as parental relocation. A family law attorney may be able to offer advice on the relevant laws and approaches to resolving the situation.

Keywords: divorce, relocation, children