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How Far Behind in Child Support Before a Warrant is Issued in Texas?

Texas takes child support seriously, and there are many techniques the state uses to coerce parents into paying. When a parent falls behind, they accrue arrearages. Ultimately, a parent might end up being put in jail for intentionally refusing to follow a court order.

The Law Office of David J. Rodriguez, PLLC, understands the state’s child support laws and how they impact parents. Please reach out to speak with a San Antonio, Texas child support lawyer about your case.

Enforcing a Child Support Order

A judge should set a child support order when a couple divorces or after paternity is established. This order is not a recommendation—it’s a mandatory court order. When a parent fails to pay, they are violating the order.

Texas has a procedure parents follow for enforcing child support orders against deadbeat parents. Under the Texas Family Code § 157.001, a parent owed child support can file a motion for enforcement in the court which retains jurisdiction over child support matters. This is typically the court that issued the initial order.

Many parents use child support attorneys to draft and file the motion for enforcement. The court will then set a hearing, and personal service should be made on the deadbeat parent at least 10 days before the scheduled hearing. The delinquent parent should show up to the hearing to discuss with the judge why they aren’t paying.

A parent can file a motion to enforce as soon as the other parent fails to pay. If you miss one month, the parent might head to court. There is no minimum amount of child support arrearages before a parent can file a motion to enforce.

Failure to Appear at a Hearing

When the other parent doesn’t show up at a hearing, a judge can issue a warrant, also called a “capias.” Under Texas Family Code § 157.102, law enforcement treats this capias like any criminal arrest warrant. Police enter it into the database, along with criminal arrest warrants, and you might get picked up during a random traffic stop.

Police can arrest the deadbeat parent, who can get released on bond with the condition that he or she promises to show up to court for the next hearing without any need for additional service of process. (Tex. Fam. Code § 157.104).

Reach out to a child support attorney near me if you are arrested or if you want to have a warrant issued for a delinquent parent.

Running from the Law

It’s best to show up to any hearing. The state publishes a list of Child Support Evaders on the Attorney General’s website. To be listed, you must be at least $5,000 behind in child support and a court must have issued an arrest warrant. You will also be listed on the website once you are arrested.

Instead of fleeing, search for “child support lawyers near me” for legal assistance. Often, parents stop paying because they lose their job or become disabled, or some other tragedy has struck, such as a home fire. Parents want to pay; they simply don’t have the money.

If you can’t pay, you’ll need to request a modification of your child support order. You can’t just stop paying, because that can lead to an enforcement proceeding and arrest warrant. The sooner you reach out, the better.  Call our San Antonio family law firm. We can review whether you have solid grounds to request a modification of child support.

Defending Yourself in Court

Refusing to pay child support can result in incarceration. The judge should consider whether this is a possibility. If it is, then a parent has a right to an attorney. The court should appoint an attorney for any parent who is too poor to pay.

It’s entirely possible to end up in jail. A judge might find you in contempt of court and jail you. You could also face criminal charges for failure to pay child support.

Contact Rodriguez for expert assistance in your Texas child support case. Our firm has helped custodial and non-custodial parents with enforcement issues. We know how to create and file a solid motion for enforcement. We can also defend delinquent parents by explaining to a judge why you’ve missed payments.

Schedule Your Consultation

The Law Office of David J. Rodriguez, PLLC, recognizes the importance of child support. Our office opened its doors to help families with legal disputes. Call this firm to schedule an initial consultation with our Texas family law attorney to review your legal options.