Tips on Paying Child Support in Texas: Part 3

Parts one and two of this three-part series provided a basic overview on calculating child support in Texas based on the statutory guidelines and on departing from those guidelines based on the unique situation of the parties. Once the amount of child support is determined, the family law court generally orders child support payments to take place at a certain place and time. It is up to the “obligor” (the noncustodial parent/person paying child support) to comply with the order by making the payments as ordered by the court.

Sometimes the court will expressly state how you are supposed to pay child support by entering an Income Withholding Order. This Income Withholding Order tells an employer to withhold child support from an employee’s paycheck every pay period. However, when divorces are agreed (or uncontested), the parties generally have a choice in how, when, and where to pay child support. When that choice exists, it is generally wise to choose a method that leaves proof of the amount, date, and place of payments in the event the obligor is ever accused of nonpayment. Failure to pay child support can follow you through bankruptcy and even land you in jail.

How to Pay Child Support

Generally, the best way to pay is through the Office of the Attorney General (OAG). This leaves a paper trail that will be helpful if you are later accused of nonpayment of child support. There are several ways to pay the OAG:

1. Pay online with a credit card or debit your bank account.
2. If the court signs an an Income Withholding Order, then your employer will withhold the specified amount from your paycheck. Your employer will then transfer the specified child support amount to the OAG who will subsequently distribute the payment to the custodial parent.
3. If you have been ordered to pay through the State Disbursement Unit, you can mail a check or money order payment to the Texas Child Support Disbursement Unit (TxCSDU). Check your order for the exact address, but generally, you should send your payments to:

Texas Child Support Disbursement Unit (TxCSDU)
P.O. Box 659791
San Antonio, TX 78265-9791.

Make sure that you include the following information on your check or money order:
Your name (noncustodial parent’s name)
Your 10-digit case number;
Your cause number—the identification number found on the court case that establishes the child support order; and the
Custodial parent’s name.

If you are paying child support directly to the other parent, you should use an Affidavit of Direct Payment (ADP) to document your payments to the custodial parent. An ADP is used to document child and medical support payments in any form that you, the noncustodial parent, pay directly to the custodial parent. However, this method cannot be used if you make payments via a county registry or a state disbursement unit such as the OAG.

Never pay in cash directly to the custodial parent. No matter how you pay, always pay by some traceable, provable method and keep clear records, such as copies of checks, and keep them in a file for future use if necessary.

Missed or Partial Child Support Payments

If you cannot pay the full amount one month, you should still pay something. A partial payment at least shows that you are making an effort to comply with the court order. Failing to pay child support is a very bad idea if it is at all avoidable. Past-due child support does not disappear. The OAG can collect past-due child support even after the child becomes an adult. In addition, interest is charged on past-due child support meaning that the amount owed continues to increase the longer you fail to pay.

If you fail to make child support payments, the court can force payment by seizing property, suspending licenses, and sentencing you to jail.

The Takeaway
While every case is different, generally, the best option for paying child support is through the Attorney General’s Office. The OAG systematically documents your payments. No matter what method you use to make your child support payments, make sure that you carefully document and keep a record of each payment you make. If, for some reason, you cannot pay your full child support payment any given month, at least pay something. This will show the court that you are trying your best to uphold the court’s order and that you care about the welfare and support of your child.

Keeping the above tips in mind when it’s time to pay child support can help simplify the process. Call the Fort Worth Family Law Attorneys at Gardner & Smith PLLC, if you have further questions regarding child support payments. Call our attorneys if you are Paying Child Support. Our Fort Worth Family Lawyers protect your rights and your money in Tarrant County and Johnson County Child Support Cases.