If you’re a noncustodial parent who pays child support in Texas, you know the amount you pay each month is tied into your monthly income. But what if you lose your job or what if you’re incarcerated? In both situations, you can’t work. So, does that mean you’re no longer obligated to pay child support?
For starters, it’s important that you know that all parents are obligated to financially support their children, regardless if they are single or divorced, gainfully employed or unemployed, emotionally stable or severely mentally ill, perfectly healthy or suffering from a terminal disease. And as far as incarceration, you’re still on the hook for child support if you’re behind bars. The only time a parent is relieved of their obligation to pay child support is when their parental rights have been terminated.
Your Obligation to Pay Child Support
“A parent’s obligation to pay child support does not automatically stop when they are incarcerated. The only way to stop or change the court-ordered amount of child support is to ask the court to change the order,” according to the Attorney General of Texas.
If you were to become incarcerated and you don’t have the assets sitting in the bank to continue your child support payments, you would want to request a “review and adjustment” of your current child support order. To see if you qualify for a downward modification of child support, you’ll have to complete the Inquiry Form for Incarcerated Parents. You can obtain this form at the facility you are incarcerated in.
While you are incarcerated, the Attorney General’s Office cannot:
- Change your child custody arrangement
- Enforce visitation
- Provide the other parent’s address to you or your children’s address
- Perform a DNA test if you signed an Acknowledgement of Paternity (AOP) form
- Answer your legal questions unless they have to do with child support
- Transport you to court for a hearing
- Stop interest on your child support arrears
- Provide you with a defense lawyer
The Attorney General’s Office understands that it takes most incarcerated individuals time to get back on their feet after their release. If you become incarcerated, when you’re released you should contact your local child support office as soon as possible. Keep them updated about your financial situation, and let them know if your circumstances change.
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