If Texas parents get a divorce, it is likely that one parent will be responsible for paying child support. In some cases, however, non-custodial parents may attempt to avoid paying the child support by fleeing the state, even if they have been ordered to by the court. As a result, they could potentially face legal consequences under the federal Deadbeat Parents Punishment Act.
The DPPA was enacted in 1998 for the purpose of legally punishing parents who willfully avoid making child support payments as ordered by leaving the state. In order to be eligible to be punished, parents must travel to another state, fail to make payments for one year and owe more than $5,000 in back payments. If the parent has traveled to another state and has not made payments for two years, they must owe more than $10,000 before they can be punished under the DPPA.
There are several different punishments that a parent could face if they willfully avoid paying child support. For a first offense, they could face a maximum prison sentence of six months. For a second offense, the maximum prison sentence increases to two years. Additionally, parents could potentially be ordered to pay back the child support that they owe.
If parents suddenly have a change in their financial circumstances, such as if they lose their job, they may still be required to pay child support. However, a family law attorney may file documents that allow the parent to request a modification to the child support order. In some cases, the court may adjust the amount of child support the parent owes, but it will only apply to future amounts.