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Houston father serving jail term over back-owed child support

Two people and often two incomes join together when Houston couples marry. Divorce can be a financial shock as former spouses return to a single income, sometimes with the obligation to pay alimony or child support. Child support guidelines are based on children's needs and, in part, a non-custodial parent's income, which may not remain stable over time.

The Houston Chronicle reported that a Texas dad had trouble making full child support payments over several months during a time the man said he was unemployed. After getting a job with AT&T, the man's wages were garnished but due to a clerical error, apparently for an amount less than the employee owed. The 43-year-old father said he was unaware there was a mistake until the mother of his son filed a support complaint.

The father paid more than $3,000 in back-owed support, plus an extra $1,000, before the case went to court. Before a change in Texas law last year, parents behind on support could avoid penalties by clearing their debt. The old law was no longer in effect by the time a judge decided the father should be jailed for non-payment; an appellate court affirmed the decision.

The mother's case also stated the non-custodial parent violated visitation terms by spending unauthorized time with his son. The father recently surrendered to authorities. He will spend six months in jail for failing to live up to financial obligations to his son and for contempt, unless the judge determines a suspension or reduction in sentence is warranted.

A non-custodial parent is responsible for making sure child support payments are made in the correct amount to the proper authorities. However, a custodial parent also can inform a non-custodial parent when payments aren't made on time or are insufficient. Family law attorney can help child support payers and recipients find legal solutions, which may not have to involve a court.

Source: Click2Houston.com, "Dad begins jail sentence in complicated child support case," June 24, 2014

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