Failure to Pay Child Support is a Crime

Criminal Nonsupport

Intentionally or knowingly failing to provide support for a child who is younger than 18 years of age, or who is the subject of a court order requiring the individual to support the child, is classified as criminal nonsupport. For the purposes of this law, “child” includes a child born out of wedlock whose paternity has either been acknowledged by the actor or has been established in a civil suit. A criminal nonsupport offense is a state jail felony.

An offender can be convicted of criminal nonsupport based on testimony alone, but providing proof that the offender could not provide support for the child is an affirmative defense.

The pendency of a prosecution under this law does not affect the power of a court to enter an order for child support under the Family Code. This means that an individual who has an obligation to pay child support could be prosecuted criminally and at the same time be held in contempt for non-payment of child support under the Texas Family Code.

Failure to Pay Legal Child Support Obligations

Offense

It is a federal offense for any person who:

  1. Willfully fails to pay a support obligation for a child who resides in another State, if the obligation has remained unpaid for a period longer than 1 year, or is greater than $5000;
  2. Travels in interstate or foreign commerce with the intent to evade a support obligation, if the obligation has remained unpaid for a period longer than 1 year, or is greater than $5000; or
  3. Willfully fails to pay a support obligation for a child who resides in another State, if the obligation has remained unpaid for a period longer than 2 years, or is greater than $10,000.

Presumption

It is presumed that the obligor has the ability to pay the support obligation for the time period ordered based on the existence of the support obligation in effect for the time period charged in the indictment or information.

Punishment

The punishment for an offense under this section is:

  1. In the case of a first offense under section (1) above, a fine, imprisonment for not more than 6 months, or both; and
  2. In the case of an offense under section (2) or (3), or a second or subsequent offense under section (1), a fine, imprisonment for not more than 2 years, or both.

Mandatory Restitution

Upon a conviction under this section, the court shall order restitution in an amount equal to the total unpaid support obligation as it exists at the time of sentencing.

At the Law Office of Tim Whitten, we help families of all backgrounds handle child support issues. Attorney Tim Whitten has practiced family law since 1992 and is a certified Family Law Specialist under the Texas Board of Legal Specialization.

For a confidential, one-on-one consultation at our Austin law firm, contact us online or call (512) 790-5066.

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