Can Dad See the Kids if He’s Not Paying Child Support

Published September 28, 2012 | By

I sometimes get asked by a divorced mom whether she is required to let her ex-husband have his visitation with the children if he is not currently paying his child support.  The reasoning behind the question is that if he is not following the court order, then why should I?

Two Separate Issues Under the Texas Family Code

The answer is that yes, you must follow the court order and allow the father to exercise his visitation regardless of whether he is in arrears on his child support. The court will view those issues are entirely separate and either party will be at risk of being held in contempt of court if they fail to follow the court’s order.

Let Him See the Children and File an Enforcement Action

The appropriate action for the mother to take in that situation is to hire an attorney to pursue an child support enforcement action against the father.  The Texas Family Code has very strong enforcement remedies for failure to pay child support on time, including the very real possibility of jail time.

Since mom’s who are not receiving their child support are typically already strapped for cash, the idea of having to pay an upfront retainer to pursue dad in the enforcement action is usually not an attractive one.  Fortunately the Texas Attorney General’s office has a child support division that handles enforcement cases for free.  While the service may not be the same that you would get from a private law firm (as they are fond of saying “I don’t represent the party, I represent the State of Texas”), you can’t beat the price.

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Scott Morgan is Board Certified in Family Law by the Texas Board of Legal Specialization. He is has practiced family law since 1994 and is the founder of the Morgan Law Firm which is dedicated exclusively to representing divorce and family law clients in the Houston and Austin areas.

Posted in Child Support, Enforcement, Parent-Child Issues | Taged , , ,

3 responses to “Can Dad See the Kids if He’s Not Paying Child Support”

  1. I have a schmuck of an ex who doesn’t follow through with child support payments. Enough is enough. He hasn’t had a reliable job for months, but it seems the courts are giving him a break. BUT since he can’t pay for it, what am I supposed to do? I mean, I don’t entirely depend on him. Obviously that’s why I left, but I feel there’s no justice!

  2. Is there a way to have the amount of alimony and child support to be adjusted to my gross income? I’m struggling with work. And no, I don’t blame Obama. But I just want to get things sorted out, without filing for bankruptcy. It’s not that I don’t want to provide and be a great dad. I just simply have little means to provide for myself, let alone others.

    • Hi Weston – on child support you can definitely have it lowered if you can meet the statutory criteria. I am adding this on my list of future topics to blog about so stay tuned. On alimony, it depends if it is contractual alimony (cannot modify it) or spousal maintenance under the statute (can be modified in certain circumstances).

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