If you’ve found yourself in the position of waiting on overdue child support, you may feel frustrated, discouraged or even embarrassed. Luckily, there are several legal steps you can take to ensure your child is provided for and that you receive the money you are owed.

Sandoval Family Law founder Raul Sandoval, Jr. was interviewed on KXAN’s Studio 512 show about what to do when a co-parent is not paying the full child support ordered by the court. Raul outlined several steps to take if this is the case, so that children’s best interests are prioritized.

  1. Keep track of missed payments. One of the most important steps for a parent with primary custody to take is to track any missed child support payments or partial payments. Make note of the dates and payment amounts and collect any proof of missed payments so that you can provide these to your attorney. This will assist in making your case to a judge.
  2. Schedule a court appearance. Your attorney will file a motion or petition for enforcement of child support, which will require you making a court appearance so that a judge can hear the request. The judge may find the owing parent “in contempt” and order them to pay the amount owed. The judge may also garnish wages—or determine that a certain amount of money be automatically withheld from the owing parent’s paycheck to be put toward child support. If the owing parent does not appear before the court, they may be arrested.
  3. Request reimbursement for attorney fees. If you hire an attorney to help you collect on overdue child support payments, you are eligible to receive reimbursement for legal fees. This is something required in the Texas Family Code, with some potential exceptions.
  4. Jail time for the parent who isn’t paying child support. If a co-parent fails to cooperate and pay past due child support or legal fees, a potential course of action may be to ask for the Court to send the parent to jail. However, jail time is not an excuse for a parent not to pay child support that is owed. Some judges may incarcerate the owing parent during the weekends so they can maintain employment during the week and pay the child support obligation.

Child support is calculated based on a number of factors, including the owing parent’s income, number of children (whether in the current case or outside of the case), and the proven necessities of the children, to name a few. As a parent with primary custody, it is important that you receive the support you need relative to your child’s basic requirements and any medical needs.

Co-parenting can be extremely challenging. Although there are tips and strategies to make it easier, some situations require the help of a legal professional. Having a good child support attorney on your side is important so that you can understand your options, navigate legal requirements, and ensure you receive the child support payments you are owed.

Raul Sandoval, Jr. is certified in family law by the Texas Board of Legal Specialization. To learn more, visit www.sandovalfamilylaw.com or visit the Sandoval Family Law Facebook page.