One of the most nerve-wracking situations for a divorced parent — especially one who is finding it hard to make ends meet — is to expect a child support payment and then to not get it. If that happens to you, what should you do?
A recent article from Moms.com attempted to fill in some general information, and brought some very interesting takeaways to the table we thought were worth sharing. Of course, in Texas, you want to be familiar with what’s in your decree, what’s in the Texas Family Code, and how things work with the Office of the Attorney General’s Child Support Division.
If your ex misses a child support payment, you should let the OAG know — but before you do that, you should follow the first piece of advice the article gives.
That piece of advice is to talk with your co-parent to determine what happened. It’s not easy to talk about money, of course, and indeed, it’s why a lot of couples get divorced in the first place. But it’s important for co-parents to be on the same page about child support, and it’s possible that the missed payment is just a temporary situation that’s already being resolved.
As the author observes, “Maybe an unexpected expense happened, and this has caused them to miss a payment. While they should have told you about it, they could be embarrassed, or afraid you would be upset, but talking about it can clear things up.”
The article also notes that payments might need to be modified should the parent owing child support experience a change in income, due to losing a job or some other circumstance. On the Texas OAG website, there’s a page that guides people through the process of child support modification.
There are only two ways to modify child support in Texas. It’s typically easier for co-parents to come to an agreement via what’s called the Child Support Review Process (CSRP) — an in-office meeting between the co-parents and an OAG rep — than a court proceeding. But if the parties can’t or won’t come to an agreement via the CSRP route, then it would need to go to court.
The important thing to keep in mind is that until a decree is modified, the child support amount owed each month remains the court-ordered amount. As the OAG specifies on its website, it has enforcement methods at its disposal which can include “on properties, bank accounts, retirement plans, life insurance plans, personal injury claims, insurance settlements or awards, and other assets.”
That’s why, as the article advises, it’s helpful to contact a lawyer no matter what side of the equation you’re on. At the Law Office of Lisa A. Vance, we’ve helped parents who owe child support and parents who are owed child support with their situations. We can represent you should your child support situation have to go to court. We can also help you make the case with the other party to go the CSRP route should you want to steer clear of court. In an initial consultation, we can help you to determine your situation and how best to resolve it.