Noncustodial parents in Texas and around the country who fail to meet their child support obligations face consequences that range from being held in contempt of court to losing their driving privileges. The U.S. Department of the Treasury can also withhold any income tax refunds they are entitled to under the Federal Tax Refund Offset Program. However, 60 Native American tribes that handle their own child support collection efforts were not given access to the program when it was set up. On July 14, lawmakers took a major step toward rectifying this situation when the U.S. Senate voted unanimously to pass the Tribal Child Support Enforcement Act.
Parity with state agencies
The law, which was introduced on Jan. 8, will give Native American tribes parity with state agencies tasked with collecting unpaid child support. If the bill reaches President Biden’s desk and is signed into law, Native American noncustodial parents with delinquent child support obligations will not receive income tax refunds. The money will instead be sent by the Department of the Treasury to tribal enforcement agencies.
Child support enforcement in Texas
In Texas, the Office of the Attorney General is tasked with collecting unpaid child support. Steps the agency can take to collect delinquent child support include:
- Suspending the noncustodial parent’s driver’s license
- Denying the noncustodial parent a passport or passport renewal
- Placing liens on bank or retirement accounts, insurance settlements or personal injury awards
- Reporting unpaid child support to the major credit monitoring services
- Seizing lottery winnings
- Having the noncustodial parent held in contempt of court, which can result in fines, jail time or both
Legal help with unpaid child support
While these consequences are severe, dealing with the courts and official bureaucracy can be a bewildering experience for custodial parents. If you are a custodial parent and you are not receiving court-ordered child support in a timely manner, an experienced family law attorney could help you to deal with state officials and take legal action on your behalf to have the noncustodial parent’s wages garnished.