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Do I Have to Pay Child Support if I'm Not Working in Texas?

It is a common misconception among noncustodial parents that when they stop working, they are under no obligation to pay child support. They assume that it’s all based on their income and if the money stops rolling in the door, they don’t have to pay child support until they resume working. This couldn’t be further from the truth.

Noncustodial parents have to pay child support no matter what. The only way a noncustodial parent can be relieved of their obligation to pay child support is if their parental rights are terminated. A parent is still obligated to support their children, even if they become disabled, sick with a disease, incarcerated, or unemployed.

Consequences of Not Paying Child Support

If you are a noncustodial parent and you fall behind on your child support payments, you will be subject to the local child support agency’s collection efforts. The local child support agency has many tools to enforce a child support order, such as:

  • Wage garnishment
  • Intercepting the parent’s federal tax refund
  • Liens against the parent’s personal property
  • Suspending the parent’s driver, professional, and recreational licenses
  • Filing a lawsuit to enforce the child support order

If you are unemployed because you lost your job or because you are on workers’ compensation or Social Security Disability (SSD), you are expected to continue making your child support payments. If you cannot afford your current child support payments, it’s important to petition the court for a modification.

In Texas, a parent may be eligible for a downward modification if the order was last established or modified more than three years ago, if the monthly child support amount would differ by $100 or 20% from what would be ordered, or if there has been a substantial change in circumstances, such as a decrease in the noncustodial parent’s income. If you’re now unemployed, this could definitely count as a substantial change in circumstances in the court’s eyes.

Note: Child support is not retroactive. So, if your modification is approved by the court, your monthly obligation would only be reduced from the date the court made the order going forward. Therefore, it’s important to act fast. To get started, contact our divorce attorneys today!