Amount of back child support owed by Texas parents rises to an astonishing $11 billion

From decreased consumer spending and plunging home values to record levels of unemployment, the recent recession has had a profound impact on life here in Texas. In fact, this impact has slowly spread to the state court system over the last few years as more and more parents are now proving unable to meet their child support obligations.

To illustrate, figures from the Texas Attorney General’s Office show that 460,000 of the nearly one million parents required to pay child support were late on their payments by at least one month or more in 2011.

Breaking the numbers down by geography, the attorney general’s office found that 42 percent of parents were past due on child support in Harris County, 43 percent of parents were past due on child support in Bexar County, and 46 percent of parents were past due on child support in Dallas County.

Authorities here in Texas are attributing much of the rise in child support arrears — which appeared to hit its peak in 2009 — to poor economic conditions.

“We have seen our caseload increase because more parents have applied for enforcement services, perhaps because of custodial parents’ reduced earnings due to the economy,” said a spokesperson for the child support division of the attorney general. “We also saw parents who pay child support apply for downward modification.”

While the state was able to collect $3.5 billion in child support from current and past due accounts as of August 2012 via wage garnishment, withholding of professional licensure and withholding of tax refunds/lottery winnings, there is still nearly $11 billion dollars in back child support waiting to be collected.

In the end, it’s the custodial parents — who may also be feeling the impact of the recession — and their children who suffer from the withholding of support.

“Consistent complete child support is critical for most families,” said one family law attorney. “When the support is not paid or is incomplete or late, the rent or house payment, car payment or food and school expenses suffer. Late fees accrue on rent and autos and the downward spiral continues.”

To learn more about nonpayment of child support or other post-divorce issues, contact an experienced and skilled legal professional.

Stay tuned for more from our Ft. Worth family law blog …

This post is for informational purposes only and is not to be construed as legal advice.


The Houston Chronicle, “Texas parents owe nearly $11 billion in child support,” Yang Wang, Oct. 1, 2012