End Support Enforcement’s Collection of Past Due Support

Child and Spousal Support (Alimony) Collections

Law GavelTexas state law allows ex-spouses and support enforcement agencies to be extremely aggressive in their methods for collecting support arrearage, especially for child support. This includes garnishment of your wages and bank accounts.

Your ex-spouse and support enforcement can also place a lien on your property, including both personal property and any real estate you may own.

Another common enforcement tool is the suspension or revocation of state-issued licenses. This includes ANY license issued by the state. This means not just your driver’s license, but also professional licenses for everyone from plumbers to doctors. It even includes hunting and fishing licenses. In fact there are at least 60 licensing agencies of the State of Texas that issue licenses that could be taken from you. If you fall more than three months behind on child support AND you are not in compliance with an existing court-ordered or voluntary repayment schedule, any such licenses you have or would need in the future could be suspended.

Possible Solution under Chapter 7 “Straight Bankruptcy”

Notwithstanding the above, if you are behind on support payments you may be able to arrange a catch-up program with your support enforcement agency directly. Whether this will be possible greatly varies from one agency to another, and also depends on the circumstances of your case.

But especially if you are not too far behind on your support payments, consider filing a Chapter 7 case to discharge all or most of your other debts so that you could afford to catch up on your support payments. Your goal would be to clean up your finances so that you could not only catch-up but also could reliably make the regular monthly support payments going forward.

The Power of Chapter 13

But often you can’t make workable payment arrangements with your support enforcement agency (or ex-spouse). You may have good reason to fear that your licenses are about to be suspended or other collection action is about to be taken against you. That’s when Chapter 13 can be extremely helpful.

A Chapter 13 filing stops all of the civil law collection procedures referred to above. It gives you three to five years to pay the support that you were not current on as of the date your case was filed. And throughout this time the very tough collection tools usually available to your ex-spouse or support agency are put on hold for your benefit.

The Conditions of Chapter 13

These Chapter 13 benefits only work if you comply with some conditions.

It’s extremely important that you precisely pay all ongoing monthly payments during your Chapter 13 case. That’s particularly important as to the first one or two due after the case is filed, when you are first establishing your credibility with the bankruptcy system.

Making your ongoing support payments is so important because you could easily lose the protection Chapter 13 otherwise provides you against collection of the support that was owed as of the date your case was filed. You have to pay your ongoing support or else your ex-spouse and support enforcement agency would have grounds to resume collection action on the support arrearage.

It’s also extremely important to keep up on the monthly “plan payments,” the amount you have agreed to pay monthly to the Chapter 13 trustee to distribute to your creditors. Those payments include money earmarked for catching up on the unpaid support. So if you don’t make any of those Chapter 13 payments, your ex-spouse and/or support enforcement agency could inform the bankruptcy court that you are not catching up on the support payment as agreed. This would also be grounds for losing the protection against collection of the support arrearage.


The Chapter 13 “adjustment of debts” form of bankruptcy is very strong legal tool for protecting you from the aggressive collection methods of your ex-spouse and support enforcement agency. It gives you time to catch up while being protected. Be sure to fulfill the required conditions so that you do not lose these benefits.

So if you live in the Dallas-Fort Worth Metroplex and have fallen behind on your support obligations, please contact me. I’m Carrie Weir, an experienced a Texas bankruptcy lawyer. I serve the areas around Rockwall, Heath, Greenville, Lavon, Wylie, Mesquite, Royse City, Sachse, and Rowlett. Please get in touch with me for a free and confidential consultation. You can either call me at 972-772-3083 or use the contact form here.

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Call Rockwall bankruptcy lawyer Carrie Weir at 972-772-3083 or fill out the contact from below for a free, confidential consultation to discuss your options.

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