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Austin TX Family Law Blog

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

Texas Authorities Take Stronghold on Wayward Employers Alleged To Be Pocketing Child Support

What happens if an employer diverts child support funds from a payor’s check?

Once a child support order has been entered, it becomes the payor’s legal responsibility to keep monthly payments current and up-to-date. If a payor gets behind on payments, the recipient may try and negotiate payment terms to correct the arrears, but this is often difficult to achieve. In many cases, the recipient parent must file a petition alleging the payor’s contempt of a court order and failure to pay according to the terms.

When this happens, the state of Texas will undoubtedly implement an alternative arrangement to essentially force the payor to make regular payments. One of the most common options is to garnish the payor’s wages, which is usually handled by the employer’s Human Resources Department or payroll personnel. However, as one recent headline points out, this option is not always the most secure either. Distressingly,employers have been known to redirect child support payments to themselves unbeknownst to the payor who is making a good faith effort to stay current.

In one recent case, an East Texas mechanic was paying child support through his employer – or so he thought. At the beginning of his employment, he informed the company that he had six children who were not in his custody, and 50 percent of his wages should be earmarked for child support payments. However, the employer ended up pocketing a total of $32,000 over seven years that was meant for the care of the employee’s children – and the employee had no idea anything was amiss.

Despite receiving sporadic phone calls from the custodial parents of the children about the status of payments, the employee was under the impression that his payments were being sent to the right place and handled according to the terms of the order. In 2013, the Office of Attorney General was finally notified, and it confirmed it took “aggressive steps” to hold the employer accountable. In the end, the money has been repaid to the children, and the employer will be held liable for the balance, plus fines and penalties.

If you have questions or concerns regarding child support or would like to discuss a possible modification of your current order, please contact one of our dedicated attorneys at Stinson Moyle, PLLC, proudly serving Austin and surrounding counties. We can be reached at 512.320.9070.

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