How Much Child Support can You Owe Before Going to Jail in Texas?

Failure to pay child support payments can be punishable up to a federal offense in the United States. Here’s what to know about how far behind on child support leads to jail time in Texas.

Only 43.5% of parents reported receiving child support from the noncustodial parent. Texas enforces the payment of child support with several penalties. A parent’s continued neglect of child support payments can lead to up to two years in jail.

Possible Consequences of Not Paying Child Support in Texas

The party not receiving child support may contact the Texas Attorney General Child Support Division to enforce payments. Neglecting to pay child support in Texas can lead to the following penalties:

  • Wage garnishment
  • Interception of the income tax return
  • A lien on the property
  • Suspension of license
  • Revoked license
  • Denial of passport
  • Negative credit rating
  • Civil or criminal contempt
  • Continuation of debt building while incarcerated
  • Denial of visitation rights

Related: My Child’s Father Wants Custody to Avoid Child Support

Civil Contempt Cases

Neglecting a court order is contempt of court. The parent who does not receive overdue child support payments may file a civil or criminal contempt case against the noncustodial parent.

In a civil contempt case, the court will assess a specific number of days the defendant will need to complete in jail and/or a fine the defendant will have to pay if due child support is not paid. Fines for each nonpayment can be up to $500, or the court can sentence a defendant up to 6 months in jail. If the defendant does pay after serving jail time, they must serve their full sentence.

Criminal Contempt and Nonsupport Cases

The court views contempt as a crime. The defendant must serve allotted jail time until the custodial parent receives overdue child support payments in full. A Texas judge can place the defendant in jail for up to six months due to the violating court-ordered child support payment.

The court may charge the noncustodial parent for criminal nonsupport in Texas. Criminal nonsupport is an enforceable state jail felony due to the intentional payment failure of court ordered child support. A state jail felony in Texas is a punishable offense allotting jail time and a fine of up to $10,000.

After child support payments are enforced at a state or local level, the enforcement may proceed to federal court. If the non-custodial parent still does not pay child support payments in full after two years or the amount has amounted to $10,000, the charge can increase to a criminal felony. A criminal felony for a failure of court ordered child support payments can lead to up to 2 years of jail time.

Related: What Happens to Child Support If a Parent Goes to Jail?

FAQs About How Far Behind on Child Support Constitutes Jail Time in Texas

Why does the court assign child support?

Child support benefits help ensure that the child has the same financial benefits as a household with both parents. Texas intends for child support to help offset the cost of caring for a child or it may be used to assist in the payment of housing and utility costs. The noncustodial parent is expected to pay child support to the custodial parent to provide for their portion of child care.

How much jail time can you receive for missed child support?

A failure to pay child support can constitute up to 6 months in jail. If the non-custodial parent continues to not pay child support for 2 years or the amount totals beyond $10,000, jail time can increase for up to 2 years.

How much missed child support constitutes jail time?

The party neglecting to pay child support must first be held in contempt of court. Contempt of court can lead to fines, jail time, and criminal charges.

How much are fines for missed child support?

Fines for each child support nonpayment can be up to $500. A non-custodial parent’s continual neglect of child support payments can lead to a felony and a fine of up to $10,000.

Contact Us

If you or a loved one would like to learn more about failure to pay child support and if this constitutes jail time in Texas, get your free consultation with one of our child support attorneys today!