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Child Support Enforcement Tools

  • Wade Christiansen
  • Sun, 08/19/2018 - 2:16pm

Parents who separate are often confused about their financial obligations to support the children.  Typically, the parent with whom the children live is eligible to obtain a court order that requires the other parent to make periodic payments for the support of the children.  The person ordered to pay is legally referred to as the "obligor", while the  person receiving payments is referred to as the "obligee".  If the obligor fails to timely make child support payments, the obligee has a wide variety of remedies to enforce collection of the missed child support payments. Today's blog will briefly summarize some of the most commonly used tools for child support collection.

Contempt of Court

Of all the available tools, contempt of court is the most powerful.  If the obligor fails to timely pay the child support, the Court can sentence the obligor to jail.  The threat of jail time usually is sufficient to convince an errant obligor to start making payments timely, and to catch up on the missed payments.   The remedy of contempt is available until 2 years after the youngest child emancipates (turns 18 or graduates from high school, whichever is later).

Income Withholding

The Court can order that the child support money, and an additional amount toward the arrearage, be withheld directly from the obligor's income, and sent to the obligee.  The standard court order for child support also requires that the obligor update the obligee with information regarding change of employers, subject to penalties of contempt and jail time.


If the obligor owns real estate that is not homestead exempt, a lien can be placed on the property and then subject to judicial foreclosure.  Essentially, the Court orders that the Sheriff's Department sell the property and, after satisfaction of any mortgages, pay the obligee the full amount of overdue child support.


Any personal property owned by the obligor, such as vehicles, bank accounts, furniture and jewelry, can be taken by the Sheriff's Department and sold.  All proceedings of the sale, after satisfaction of any secured loans, are then distributed to the obligee.

If the other parent of your child has failed to timely make child support payments, you have powerful legal remedies at your disposal.  Your children do not have to suffer the financial consequences of the decisions of the obligor not to make child support a priority.  The attorneys of Christiansen Law Firm have extensive experience representing child support obligees in child support enforcement matters.  To arrange a free consultation about your child support enforcement matter, contact the attorneys of Christiansen Law Firm in Houston or San Antonio.



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