One thing that authorities sometimes use in child support enforcement is jail time. Most people know that being delinquent on child support payments can lead to a person facing time in jail. What many may not know is that, here in Texas, a person who was delinquent on their child support payments but has since paid up may still face the possibility of jail. Under a relatively new Texas law, when a person is in proceedings regarding failing to pay child support and they pay off the owed amount, the judge in the case still has the discretion to give them jail time for the past delinquency. This law has been getting some attention lately due to a controversial child support case.
The case involves a 43-year-old man from Houston with child support obligations. Some of his child support payments were not made on time, but it appears that this was not the man’s fault. Purportedly, there was a clerical error on his employer’s part that led to the payments not being made. The man’s attorney says that the man paid the missing payments plus some extra money once he found out about the error.
Despite paying the missing payments, in a hearing on the matter, the man was given a six-month jail sentence under the above-mentioned new law. Purportedly, in this hearing, the man did not give any evidence regarding the clerical error.
The man then pursued appeals. In his appeals, he did bring forth evidence regarding the clerical error. His appeals, however, were unsuccessful. Thus, it appears that the man will in fact be heading to jail.
This case has led to some questions coming up regarding the new law. Does this law create an unacceptable risk that unfair results will occur in child support delinquency cases? Does this law actually help address child support delinquency? Should the law be removed/changed?
What do you think of the new law? Do you think it is an acceptable method for addressing child support delinquency or do you think it is too prone to unfairness?
Source: ABC 13, “CLERICAL ERROR FOR CHILD SUPPORT PAYMENTS SENDING DAD TO JAIL,” Tom Abrahams, June 23, 2014