Should missed child support payments mean jail?

July 1, 2012 at 2:01 a.m.
Updated July 2, 2012 at 2:02 a.m.

Pro: To read why parents who skip child support payments should go to jail, click here.

Con: To read why parents who skip child support payments should NOT go to jail, click here.

Last fiscal year, the Texas Attorney General's Office collected a record-breaking $3 billion in child support.

For the past five years, Texas has ranked first in the nation for total child support collections - even though the state did not have the nation's highest caseload.

Attorney General Greg Abbott attributes these successes to an efficient and effective child support collection program.

The program is one that uses incarceration, which is viewed as a viable last resort option for parents who willfully and repeatedly violate the law.

When other enforcement efforts fail, the attorney general's office can file a civil contempt order, as well as ask a court to impose jail time for delinquent parents who violate court orders to pay child support, according to Texas law.

Delinquent parents who owe more than $5,000 are subject to an arrest warrant and may be placed on the state's "Most Wanted Child Support Evader" list.

For years, policy makers, judicial officers, researchers and of course, parents have debated whether jail is an appropriate consequence for non-payment of child support.



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