Lately, you’ve been finding it difficult to pay your child support or spousal maintenance in Texas. While many people are going through a rough time financially because of COVID-19, the high unemployment rate, and the economic downturn, that doesn’t mean you can shirk your responsibilities.
In fact, the court could make some hefty judgments against you that would affect your life in negative ways. That’s why it’s always critical to keep your child support and spousal maintenance up to date no matter what you’re going through.
What Happens If You Don’t Pay Child or Spousal Support
Child support requires one parent to pay the other parent a certain amount of money every month to provide for children. Either the parties can agree to an amount or the court can set the amount during the proceedings.
If you don’t pay your child support, then you could get your driver’s license suspended, experience wage garnishment, get liens put on your property, have your tax refund seized, be fined, have to pay penalties, be dismissed from military service, be jailed, or have your passport denied.
Spousal maintenance, which is also known as alimony, requires you to pay a monthly amount to your ex-spouse for a certain period of time following a divorce. This payment doesn’t last forever, but you do need to stay on top of it while it’s active.
If you lost your job or other source of income, or you simply want to stop making spousal maintenance payments, you will face the consequences. You may end up having to deal with criminal or civil charges for contempt of court because you did not follow your court order that was laid out in your divorce process. For example, you might be fined, have your wages garnished, lose your driver’s license, or have to serve time in jail.
The court takes child support and spousal maintenance payments very seriously. If you’re ever in a bind, the first thing you should do is contact your lawyer right away. Then, you and your lawyer can request a modification to your child support or spousal maintenance orders.
Options for Modifying Child Support or Spousal Maintenance
If you get in touch with a child support lawyer from Boudreaux Hunter & Associates, LLC as soon as you start experiencing hardship, then you’ll hopefully be able to reduce your child support or spousal maintenance payments while you’re getting back on your feet. Just be aware that it may take some time to schedule a court appearance, especially with things being delayed due to COVID-19.
While you’re waiting, don’t stop paying. Instead, pay as much as you can per month to show the court that you did your best to make payments on time. This may cause the court to judge you favorably later on. You can also provide additional support like looking after your children, seeing that they have medical care, providing them with food, and giving them clothing if those are realistic options.
Don’t make an informal deal regarding your child support. This won’t hold up in court and could end up hurting your case.
Once you speak with your lawyer, be prepared to show that you lost your job and don’t have any income. You could show them past paystubs and current paystubs if you now work a job making less money or your hours were reduced. Gather together any unemployment checks you’re receiving as proof, too. You can also show bills – such as medical expenses – that you’re having trouble paying, and other increases in expenses like rent or utilities. Essentially, you just need to be able to demonstrate that there was a financial shakeup in your life and now you’re struggling.
If the court finds out that you do have other income that you’re hiding – say, you own a property and you have tenants paying you rent each month – then you could face a harsh judgment. Never lie to the court under any circumstances.
Sometimes, you and your ex may agree to drop the payments altogether. The court will hear both sides and make a decision based on what’s best for the situation. If there are children involved, their well-being always comes first.
If you owe back payments, you may be able to come up with a payment plan. There’s a chance you could negotiate a debt settlement or have your interest waived.
You can also note when your spousal maintenance or child support obligations end. For instance, in Texas, usually spousal maintenance ends between five and seven years after the divorce is finalized depending on how long your marriage lasted and if there was any abuse that occurred. Child support ends at age 18 or when the child graduates from high school, whichever occurs later, unless you have a disabled child and they require care into adulthood.
Of course, you should also look into financial resources to help, like free classes online on how to budget, save money, and cut back on debt. With just a little bit of research, you can get your life back on track and catch up with child support or spousal maintenance payments.
Contacting a Lawyer for Help
When you went through your divorce proceedings, you likely had a lawyer to help you. If you need to modify your child support and spousal maintenance orders, you should call on an experienced spousal support lawyer in Houston, TX to assist you once again.
Then, you can ensure you’re being treated fairly and that you’ll actually be able to make those modified payments going forward. You need someone on your side who can figure out what’s best for you and your children at this difficult moment in time, after all.
Reaching Out to Boudreaux Hunter & Associates, LLC
If you’re having trouble paying your spousal maintenance or child support, then one of the experienced attorneys at Boudreaux Hunter & Associates, LLC is here to help. Contact us today at (713) 333-4430 or schedule your consultation online and get started with your child support or spousal maintenance modification process.