The state of Texas takes child support very seriously. In fact, overdue child support can lead to jail time, as one father found out the hard way after a clerical error resulted in him facing a six months jail sentence.
The ordeal began last year when the father of an 11-year-old boy was sent a bill stating that he owed $3,000 in overdue child support. The father wasn’t intentionally not paying his child support. As it turned out, the payment shortage was because of errors with the automated withdrawal amounts from the Houston man’s paycheck.
Even so, the father immediately paid the $3,000 as well as $1,000 in order to get current with his child support payments. The man’s attorney thought the situation would be a non-issue after her client showed her the letter he had received and the receipt showing that he was up to date with his child support payments.
However, the attorney for the man’s ex wasn’t going to let the case go. Instead, she filed a motion seeking attorney’s fees in the amount $3,500.
Matters were only made worse for the Houston dad when he showed up to court and ended up being sentenced to six months in jail after being held in contempt of court for failing to pay his child support.
The sentence was handed down in accordance with a Texas law that went into effect in June 2013 which states that a parent can be sentenced to a maximum of six months in jail for overdue child support, even if the parent is paid-up at the time the sentence is ordered.
Needless to say, the Houston father and his attorney were shocked to hear the man’s jail sentence, which he began serving this week. Apparently, the father’s attorney was unable to appeal the decision.
This case is extreme, but it reminds all Texas parents of the consequences that can result from unpaid child support. Parents who are facing child support payments they cannot afford or have questions about their child support obligations should consult an experienced family law attorney right away for guidance.
Source: Huffington Post, “Clerical Error In Child Support Payments Leads To Six-Month Jail Sentence For Clifford Hall,” Jan. 21, 2014