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Failure to pay child support triggers penalties

The Texas Attorney General's Office has taken a hard stance against noncustodial parents who are behind on child support. People who have missed payments could have the renewal of their vehicle registrations denied. Civil and criminal penalties for parents who fail to make their payments have emerged because of the important role that steady financial support plays in the lives of children.

Many children rely on support from noncustodial parents to pay for food, clothing and housing. A study originally published in the journal Demography reported that child support contributes to better performance at school.

Missed payments add up quickly for families. Another study, this one published in the Journal of Marriage and Family, focused on approximately 1,000 noncustodial fathers. Of those, in excess of 30 percent were behind in their payments. On average, they were $7,705 in arrears. When fathers fell behind on child support, their interaction with their children declined. They attended to routine activities like homework or playing outside less often than other fathers.

When courts establish the amount of child support, legal guidelines direct officials to consider the best interests of the child, every day expenses and the income of the parents. Unfortunately, the failure to pay child support can be both financially and emotionally devastating for both the noncustodial parents who need those funds as well as both the affected children. Parents who are having trouble collecting what they are owed may want to meet with an attorney to see how to proceed. There might be a variety of available enforcement options, including wage garnishment.

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