What rights do fathers have if they do not pay child support?

UPDATED: Dec 26, 2011

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What rights do fathers have if they do not pay child support?

What are a father’s rights over biological children when he does not pay child support (over $30,000 in arrears)? He goes from job-to-job and address-to-address in order to avoid having to pay. However, he continues to harass my husband and I (who is in the military) regarding visitation with the children. We are stationed in Germany. He contacts the children daily over the phone, internet (web cam), and USPS. He is constantly telling the children how I am keeping him from visiting them even though I have sent 2 letters inviting him to visit the children.

Asked on December 26, 2011 under Family Law, Texas


B.H.F., Member, Texas State Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 11 years ago | Contributor

Even though they are linked, child support and visitation are considered two separate issues.  A custodial parent cannot deny another parent visitation for failure to pay child support.  Essentially, the law does not allow a parent to be punished just because they are poor.  To answer your question "what rights do fathers have if they do not pay child support?"-- the general answer is that they have all the same rights set out in the order or divorce decree that created their obligation to pay child support.  That is not to say, however, that you are without options.  First is to continue with civil enforcement for the child support obligation, request assistance from the Attorney General (who can garnish his income taxes), and request the court to enter an order which prohibits him from telling the children negative things.  If he has the ability to pay, but does not attempt to sufficiently support his children for an extended period of time, you could petition the court to terminate his parental rights.  The petition is not based on his inability to pay, but rather his refusal to work.  This is an extreme remedy that should only be used as a last resort.  Another option is to pursue criminal enforcement.  Texas makes it a felony offense for a parent to fail to comply with a support order.  For the dead beat parents, this has been a useful tool in sending a wake-up call to those parents who were just playing games to avoid their financial responsibilities.

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