Child Support Enforcement When a Parent Is Unemployed

What Can Be Done?

Child support orders are designed to serve families in the long term. However, this becomes increasingly challenging if a parent responsible for payments becomes unemployed. The child's welfare is paramount in Texas, and the state has mechanisms to address these situations.

Keep reading to learn about child support modification and enforcement options if a parent is unemployed, including situations in which a parent is dealing with long-term unemployment.

Child Support & Unemployment Benefits in Texas

According to the Office of the Attorney General of Texas, unemployment does not absolve a parent from their responsibility to support their child. Indeed, child support payments can be deducted from unemployment benefits through wage withholding. The Texas Workforce Commission plays a crucial role in this process, withholding up to 50 percent of unemployment earnings to satisfy monthly child support obligations.

The Office of the Attorney General will also review situations involving child support arrears payments for those ordered by the court to make back payments.

Modifying Child Support Orders

In addition to wage withholding, the court system will also reevaluate whether the non-paying/unemployed parent's situation warrants modifying the original child support order. In many cases, long-term unemployment does necessitate a modification. Additionally, seeking a modification before enforcement can be a better option for families.

While enforcement seeks to compel compliance with the current order, modification adjusts the order to reflect significant changes in circumstances, such as extended periods of unemployment. A modification can help a parent adjust to their new financial reality while still fulfilling their financial duty to their children.

In some cases, seeking a modification can be beneficial for all parties involved, including when it comes to issues of:

  • Compliance: It can offer a struggling parent a more realistic obligation, increasing the likelihood of long-term compliance.
  • Preserving relationships: Proactively addressing financial pressures can help reduce conflict and support the preservation of positive co-parent relationships.
  • Child welfare: A modification can help ensure that children continue to receive support, albeit adjusted, rather than experiencing the complete cessation of payments.

Enforcement Process in Texas

The state has enforcement measures available when an unemployed parent refuses to pay child support or does not seek a modification. These situations can be tough, but with the help of an attorney and the court system, you can get through it.

Custodial parents need to know that the state takes enforcement seriously and has robust tools at its disposal to ensure compliance. These can include but are not limited to:

  • License suspensions, including driver's licenses, professional licenses, and hunting and fishing licenses.
  • Passport denials, including for receiving or renewing a passport.
  • Liens, such as properties, bank accounts, retirement plans, life insurance policies, personal injury claims, and insurance settlements, to secure child support payments.

Seeking Legal Guidance

Navigating the complexities of child support with an unemployed co-parent can be daunting. Working with an attorney during this time can be highly beneficial for many reasons, from understanding your rights to helping you determine the right path forward for you and your family.

Our law firm has helped many clients in similar situations, and we are here to help with:

  • Understanding your child support rights and obligations under the Texas Family Code.
  • Assistance with drafting and filing modification petitions.
  • The enforcement process.
  • Strategic legal advice that is responsive to your changing situation.

Contact Law Firm of Johnson & Gaskill PLLC today to discuss your child support concerns. Our experienced attorney is here to provide informed, compassionate legal support.

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