Dallas County Public Defender's Office

Family Law FAQ's

Frank Crowley Courts – 133 N. Riverfront Boulevard, 9th Floor, Dallas, Texas 75207


CAN I GO TO JAIL IF I DON'T PAY MY CHILD SUPPORT?

Yes. If the court finds you have disobeyed a valid order requiring you to pay child support, the court could find you in contempt of court and incarcerate you for up to 180 days,

IF I LOSE MY JOB, DO I STILL HAVE TO PAY CHILD SUPPORT?

Yes. Unemployment is not a legal excuse for failing to pay court-ordered child support. However, if you lose your job, you may be entitled to a reduction in the amount of child support you are required to pay. To get a reduction in the amount of support, you or your attorney must file a motion to modify child support and obtain an order from a judge. The Dallas County Public Defender's Office does not represent individuals in the following in motions to modify child support.

MY EX WON'T LET ME SEE THE KIDS. DO I STILL HAVE TO PAY CHILD SUPPORT?

Yes. Child support and access are separate issues. You are obligated to pay child support even if your ex has denied you access to your children. However, if a court has ordered visitation or access, you may seek to have the parent denying access held in contempt for failure to abide by the court order. It is best to seek an attorney to handle the enforcement of the visitation order.

DO I STILL HAVE TO PAY CHILD SUPPORT IF I BECOME INCARCERATED?

Under Texas law, payments due under an existing child support order continue to accrue even if the person obligated to pay support is incarcerated. However, you cannot be held in contempt of court for failure to pay child support during the time you were incarcerated.

CHILD PROTECTIVE SERVICES HAS REMOVED MY CHILD AND PLACED HIM IN FOSTER CARE. MY CASEWORKER TELLS ME I AM IN DANGER OF LOSING MY PARENTAL RIGHTS. UNDER WHAT CIRCUMSTANCES CAN A COURT TERMINATE MY PARENTAL RIGHTS?

The Texas Family Code contains a lengthy list of abusive or neglectful actions that if proven by clear and convincing evidence may provide a basis for termination of the parent-child relationship. However, proof of abuse or neglect is not in and of itself sufficient to terminate the relationship. In addition to finding that a parent has abused or neglected a child, the court must find that termination of the parent-child relationship is in the best interest of the child.

CHILD PROTECTIVE SERVICES HAS ASKED ME TO COMPLETE A "SERVICE PLAN" IT SAY WILL HELP ME TAKE BETTER CARE OF MY CHILDREN. IF I DO EVERYTHING CPS ASKS ME TO DO UNDER THE SERVICE PLAN, WILL CPS RETURN MY CHILDREN TO ME?

Maybe. Even if a parent satisfactorily completes a service plan designed by CPS, a parent's rights are still subject to restriction or termination if the parent is unable to provide a safe environment for the child.