Child Support – Paying something is better than nothing

Many people come to me with large amounts of past-due child support.  The interest alone can represent a large portion of their amount owed.  I have seen lots of people go to jail due to their failure to pay child support.  In most cases, the non-paying parent has paid nothing for months or years and now their past payment history (or lack thereof) is being used against them to show their true character.
Many people assume that if they don’t have the full amount then they should not pay anything.  Please note that child support is different than other consumer debt.  Child support gets sent to a centralized office where the amount you pay is noted in your computer file and then the money is passed along to the receiving parent.  Note that you can either send the payment in as a check or make a payment online through a credit card or bank account transfer.  See the Texas Attorney General Child Support Webpage for more information on where to mail or make the payments.
If you cannot make a full payment on your child support, it is in your best interests to send something, anything, in rather than not pay at all.  If you ever have to go in front of a Judge they will be more likely to give you a second chance if they say you have been sending in something every month as opposed to seeing months and months of zero payments.  Judges hate to send people to jail (at taxpayer expense) and want to give delinquent parents as many chances as they can.  Let your payment history be the best evidence of how you have been paying something, not nothing.  That shows the court that you are at least attempting to comply.  Keep in mind that if you have a reduction in wages, either through a layoff or move from full to part time, you might qualify for a reduction in your child support.  Call an attorney (preferably me) to discuss whether a reduction is proper in your case.