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What Happens if My Ex Stops Paying For Child Support?

A mom and daughter sitting together reading a book. If you are the custodial parent in a divorce, a Houston Child Support attorney can help you figure out how much child support you’re entitled to.


Court-ordered child support is a legal obligation, and should not be ignored for any reason. If your spouse has stopped paying child support payments, then you have the right to take action and defend your child’s rights. Child support payments are a lifeline for many people. They provide financial support for your child’s daily living expenses, including their food, clothing, education, and other necessities. If your ex-partner stops paying child support, then you should seek legal counsel from an experienced family law attorney.

Enforcing child support orders can be a challenge. However, it is essential that you do not take matters into your own hands by refusing visitation. The court will not look favorably on you if you do this. Instead, you need professional help. At Skillern Firm, our attorneys have over 50 years of combined experience in family law. Our founder, Mathew Skillern, has an AVVO rating of 10.0, the highest possible rating based on years in service, awards, honors, and professional associations. We fight tirelessly to protect the rights and best interests of our clients, and to secure a bright future for you and your children.

Speak to an experienced attorney in Texas today at (832) 210-2669.

What is Child Support and What is it Designed to Cover in Texas?

Child support is paid by one parent to the other to help contribute to the cost of the upbringing of the child. Usually, the non-custodial parent pays child support, unless the other parent earns significantly more. While Texas law does not specify what should be covered by child support, it should cover the child’s basic needs such as food, shelter, clothing, education, and medical and dental care. You may also receive a temporary support order which will be in place while the divorce is still pending. Although this is not a permanent arrangement, it still places legal obligations on parents.

What To Do About a Missing Child Support Payment

A court order for child support payments is legally binding. However, it is important to tread carefully to avoid worsening the situation. If you go straight in with legal action, it could make your relationship with your ex even more difficult, which can also negatively affect your children. Therefore, the first step should be to speak to your ex-spouse. For some people, this might be difficult, and if speaking to them puts you in any danger, or if they refuse to speak to you, then skip this step. In these situations, local child support services might be able to help enforce child support orders.

If you can find out why they have missed the payment, and if it is valid. If, for example, they have lost their job or crashed their car, see if you can come to an arrangement while they get back on their feet where they pay you a little less and make up for it when they can. On the other hand, if they have no good reason not to pay you and are still refusing to cooperate, then it is time to look at your legal options. An experienced child support attorney will be able to provide you with the legal help you need to recover past-due child support payments. They will view your options and ensure you have the information you need to make an informed decision about your next steps.

Consequences of Not Paying Child Support in Texas

In Texas, both parents have a legal obligation to support the upbringing of their children, and failure to meet those obligations can be a criminal offense. When you seek help from an attorney at Skillern Firm, they can help you take your spouse to court and hold them accountable. Potential penalties the court may use to enforce child support orders to the delinquent parent include:

  • Automatically deduct funds from their paycheck or other income sources such as unemployment benefits, tax refunds, or lottery winnings.
  • The court may issue fines of up to $500 for every nonpayment.
  • File liens against their assets.
  • A Texas court could issue a jail sentence for up to six months for contempt of court due to unpaid child support.
  • The court could order the other parent to pay your attorney and legal fees.
  • Suspending their driver’s license, or other professional licenses.

Unpaid Child Support Doesn’t Disappear

If your ex-spouse keeps missing child support payments, then they will keep accumulating, and they are subject to interest. Even if your ex seeks a modification and the court agrees to reduce payment, they won’t reduce what they already owe you. There is no statute of limitations on unpaid child support, so it will never simply disappear. The Child Support Division can organize payments so that the parents do not have to interact with each other if necessary.

Child Support Modification

We understand that it is frustrating if you are having to pay for all your child’s needs and your ex-spouse won’t take responsibility. However, sometimes things happen which are out of their control. In this situation, they may seek a child support modification with the court.

According to the Texas Family Code, grounds for modification of child support include:

  • A substantial or material change in circumstances such as job loss, changing needs of the child, such as illness, changes to the child’s living arrangements, changes in employment, or increased caring expenses for other dependents.
  • Three years have passed since the existing order, and the amount in child support that would be awarded under up-to-date guidelines differs by either 20% or $100.

The court will not grant modifications for other reasons, such as disputes between parents. Either parent can request a child support modification, or it can be applied for jointly.

Agreed Vs. Contested Modification

A child support order modification will be easier if both parents agree. In which case, you can submit a motion for modification jointly with the court. It could still be helpful to seek advice from an attorney as they will ensure that everything is in order, maximizing the chances of your modification being accepted. If parents cannot agree, then a contested modification will take longer, and the court will want to see that you have at least tried to come to an agreement.

When one parent applies for a modification, the other party will be served with modification papers and they will have 20 days to respond. If they fail to do so and the judge agrees to the modification, they may approve it by default. If your ex-spouse is trying to modify child support and you do not believe that they should, then you should contact an attorney as soon as possible.

Never Withhold Visitation Because of Missed Payments in Texas

We can’t stress this enough. If your ex-spouse repeatedly misses payments, then it is understandable that you want to deny visitation either as a way to punish them. However, visitation and child support are two separate issues and the court will not look kindly upon you if you withhold visitation. It could result in you also being held responsible for contempt of a court order. The best thing you can do to seek justice is to contact Skillern Firm today.

Why You Should Seek Help From Skillern Firm

If your ex-spouse repeatedly misses child support payments, then it is essential you hold them accountable for their actions. Bringing up children isn’t cheap or easy, and both parents have a legal responsibility to support their children. Not only do missed child support payments bring a lot of frustration and stress, but it also negatively affects your children who miss out on the support they need.

At Skillern Firm, our goal is always to achieve what is in the best interests of the child. We will know the right level of force to take depending upon your individual case and we will strive to keep things as amicable as possible. Protecting your relationship might be an important aspect of your case, and we respect that. However, we are prepared to take your ex to court if necessary. Here are a few of the other reasons why you should choose Skillern Firm as your family law representative.

We Solely Practice Family Law

We have a speciality focus on family law, which allows us to dedicate all of our time and resources to matters that affect our clients.

Proven Track Record

We have a proven track record of success and we are more than happy to share past victories with you from our previous clients who were dealing with situations that are similar to yours.

We Are Associated With Local State Bars

Our director Mathew Skillern is part of the Houston Bar Association, State Bar of Texas, and the Fort Bend County Bar Association. These affiliations ensure that we adhere to the highest standards of legal conduct.

We Offer a Personalized Approach

Although you come to us for legal counsel, we offer a highly personalized approach. We take the time to get to know you and your situation so that we can offer the best possible advice. We are on hand to answer your legal questions, but will also act as a source of support when you need us. If you have any questions, we won’t leave you waiting for days for an answer. We are always prompt and strive to be as supportive as we can.

What Happens if My Ex Stops Paying For Child Support? FAQs

Q: Is it common for people to miss child support payments?

A: In the United States, it is common for people to struggle with child support payments. In fact, in 2011, the amount of unpaid child support across the United States equated to $14.3 billion dollars.

Q: How do I manage my finances while I wait for child support payments?

A: If you are struggling to cope while you await child support payments, then you will need to find a way to manage your money. This can be an enormous struggle, but your options may include seeking more work, asking a family member for help, and cutting down on expenses.

Q: How can an attorney help me recover child support payments?

A: Regardless of whether you take your ex-spouse to a court or not, an attorney is still invaluable. They can assess your options and inform you about what your rights and responsibilities are. They will estimate what going to court will cost you, and how long it would take for you to receive what you are owed.

Q: What is medical support in Texas?

A: In Texas, parents are also required to provide medical support, as well as dental support if your divorce case began after September 1st, 2018. The parent who pays child support should also provide medical and dental coverage if it is available at a reasonable cost. (Reasonable cost is no more than 9% of the payer’s annual income for medical insurance, and for dental support, it is 1.5%).

Q: What if my ex-spouse no longer lives in Texas?

A: If your ex-spouse no longer lives in Texas, then the CSD can use federal law to seek help from other states’ child support enforcement agencies to help you collect child support from them.

Q: Can my ex lose visitation rights if they stopped paying child support?

A: If your ex-spouse was ordered to pay child support but refuses, then the court will find ways to hold them accountable. However, visitation and child support are separate issues and will not affect each other.

Can I Go After My Ex’s New Wife For Child Support in Texas?

Contact Skillern Firm

When you’re suffering from missed child support payments, it can be incredibly difficult. You want to be able to support your children, and not being able to provide them with everything that they need is never a position you should be put in. When you seek help from Skillern Firm we will assess your options and advise you on your next steps. We will strive to protect your relationship with your ex-spouse, but if necessary, we are ready to take them to court to secure what they owe you. We have more than 50 years of combined experience and offer a personalized approach to the attorney-client relationship. We will handle even the most complex cases with the care and dedication they deserve.

Call our law firm today at (832) 210-2669.