In the state of Texas, child support enforcement falls to the state attorney general’s office. In 2013, Texas noncustodial parents owed nearly $11 billion in child support in arrears to custodial parents, representing a loss of almost 40 percent to custodial mothers’ household income. Child support payments help reduce the number of single and divorced mothers living below the federal poverty line by 25 percent.
Child support is determined based upon the income of the noncustodial parent and typically begins at 20 percent for a single child. Around 54,040 full-time workers nationwide are tasked with enforcing and collecting child support from parents who fail to pay. Only 60 percent of owed child support was successfully recovered in 2013, leaving approximately 7 million U.S. children unsupported by noncustodial parents.
In Texas family law, the state attorney general’s office may locate absent parents, assist in establishing paternity and engage in collection activity; this includes garnishing a noncustodial parent’s wages to ensure child support is paid in a timely and proper manner. The attorney general’s office may also review and adjust required child support payments and enforce and collect on other forms of support, such as child medical support. Fathers are statistically less likely to pay, largely because the majority of custodial parents in Texas and the United States are women.
An attorney may assist a custodial parent with filing for modifications to an existing child support agreement or petitioning the state attorney general’s office for aid in collecting owed child support. The attorney might recommend garnishment of wages or petition for civil and criminal penalties and sanctions against the noncustodial parent for failure to pay.