How to File a Motion to Enforce Child Support in Texas
By Heather Frances J.D.
Your divorce decree probably included provisions for child support payments and custody, but if your ex-spouse doesn’t pay child support as ordered, you may need to return to court for help enforcing the child support order. Texas courts have broad authority to enforce their own child support orders once you file a motion, and the Child Support Enforcement division of the Attorney General’s Office may be able to help you file.
A parent who is owed child support in Texas can ask the courts for a number of remedies to help collect the past-due support. The court can order a child support lien to be placed on your ex-spouse’s real estate or other property, and portions of his tax returns or government benefit payments can be seized. If enough support is past-due, the state can revoke his driver’s license or professional licenses. Your ex-spouse can even be held in contempt of court for failing to comply with the court’s order, and contempt can involve jail time.
To help you draft your motion, you can go to the court that issued your child support order and ask for a motion form since each court has its own preferred format, or you can hire an attorney to draft the motion for you. The motion must include the important details about your case, including the amount of support that was ordered to be paid, the amount that has been paid and the amount that is past due. If you want to file a motion asking the court to hold your ex-spouse in contempt, you must indicate the portion of the custody or support order that he violated along with the date of each violation, the amount due and the amount paid. Your motion may also include a request that your ex-spouse either pay his past-due support in accordance with a court-approved payment plan or find work to make payments under an already existing plan.
You are required to prove your case to the court, so your motion may benefit from attachments such as a copy of the record of child support payments your ex-spouse made. Typically, this record is maintained by your payment agency, either the Texas Child Support Disbursement Unit or your county registry. You can also attach a copy of the original support order, and any subsequent modifications, to the motion since the court will want to see these orders before making its decision.
Filing and Service
Once the motion is complete and the attachments are assembled, you can file the motion with the court. You will also have to serve the motion, attachments and a summons on your ex-spouse. You should also keep a copy of all documents for yourself.
Texas court rules give your ex-spouse a certain number of days to respond to the motion, and if he disputes anything in your motion, the court may require you to request a hearing date. If your ex-spouse does not respond, the court may enter its decision without his input.
Heather Frances has been writing professionally since 2005. Her work has been published in law reviews, local newspapers and online. Frances holds a Bachelor of Arts in social studies education from the University of Wyoming and a Juris Doctor from Baylor University Law School.