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Travis County tracks Texas deadbeat parents to pay up

Divorced parents who are not primary custodians of their children sometimes dislike the regimented scheduling, time constraints and brevity of visitations. When ex-spouses feel minimized by a parent-child relationship, bitterness can sometimes lead a withdrawal of child support.

Texas couples who co-parent may dislike communicating with an ex but work together while focusing on the well-being of their children. Some non-custodial parents only see the physical, and sometimes emotional, separation from children as a barrier. Delaying or defaulting on child support payments becomes a form of revenge.

Financial support of children is necessary and mandatory, no matter how ex-spouses feel about one another. Courts allow compromises for noncustodial parents who have fallen below the ability to provide child support through no fault of their own.

Support modifications reflect circumstances like the extended loss of a job or an ongoing illness.

Some parents have the means but just don't want to pay child support. Noncustodial parents who have ignored court dates and fallen behind in support payments are the ones Austin-area officials are tracking.

Arrest warrants were issued for Travis County parents who aren't current with child support. Agents are going door-to-door to collect hundreds, sometimes thousands, of dollars in back-owed payments.

In 2011, Texas authorities collected $3.5 billion in money owed to children for basic necessities like food, housing and clothing. A noncustodial parent who neglects payments may hope to hurt a former spouse. The real victims of skipped support are children.

Enforcement officials in Travis County have promised they won't arrest noncustodial parents who are making honest efforts to financially support their children. Agents want parents who are negligent about child support on purpose to understand that they have an obligation to fulfill.

Being unable to support a child financially and being unwilling to pay child support are very different circumstances to family courts. Noncustodial parents can use the legal system to improve the child custody, visitation and support payment options they have.

Source: kxan.com, "Child support enforcement stepping up," Casey James, Sept. 17, 2012

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