Did you know that failure to pay court-ordered child support can not only send a person to jail, but also result in a felony conviction? To make matters worse, a fine of up to $10,000 may also be levied on top of the jail sentence.
Texas Penal Code 25.05 makes it a felony offense to intentionally or knowingly fail to provide court-ordered child support for a child under the age of 18. A “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 under the Family Code or the law of another state.”
To be criminally guilty of failure to pay child support, the person must be subject to a court order requiring child support payments. A mutually-agreed upon child support arrangement will not become a basis for this criminal action.
Understand that arrests take place at the probable cause level. Proof beyond a reasonable doubt is not necessary for an arrest. Therefore, if the receiving parent calls the police and says you have not been paying child support despite a court order to do so, you can be arrested without as much as a phone call to you to see if that is true. It is critically important that you pay child support in a manner that can be proven at a later date, if need be. That could be by check, or by simply getting the receiving parent to email or text a confirmation that the payment was received if you are paying by cash.
Failure to pay child support law has an affirmative defense. The affirmative defense can be established if the actor can show they were unable to provide support for the child. This is a state jail felony, punishable by both a fine of up to $10,000 and jail time of up to two years, with a minimum of 180 days in custody. As a result, it is crucial for anyone facing charges for a failure to pay child support in Fort Worth to retain a hardworking lawyer for help.