You may have heard that if you marry someone you inherit his debt. In some cases, this is true. When it comes to child support in Texas, a parent is ordered to pay the debt or face enforcement activity. Typically, his wages are garnished in an attempt to collect the money owed. If he still does not satisfy the debt, joint assets can be affected.
Your individual wages cannot be garnished if your husband has failed to pay child support. However, if you have a joint account with your husband, funds could be taken from it as part of a lien.
Enforcing the Court Order
If a court order for child support exists in Texas, the order can only be enforced against the person whose name is written on the order. Your husband is required to pay. Your wages will not be garnished, even if you are the only source of income. It is important to understand that even though your wages will not be garnished by the state, other assets you have together can be levied if your husband owes back child support.
Understanding the Handling of Assets
In Texas, a child support lien can be attached to all personal property including real estate, vehicles, stocks, bonds, furniture and other personal possessions. If your husband owes child support, the state of Texas has a legal right to freeze any bank account that is in your husband's name, even if your name is also on the account. If you both own a non-homestead-exempt property, a lien may be placed on the property that will require you to pay the support before the home can be sold. If you sell your primary home, the proceeds of the sale can be attached after six months from the date of sale.
Withholding Funds from Tax Returns
Child Support Enforcement informs the Internal Revenue Service and Texas Department of Revenue of any past-due child support obligations. The IRS and state of Texas can withhold the balance from the parent's tax refund. If you and your husband file a joint return, the return can be intercepted. As the spouse, you have the right to file a special "innocent spouse” claim to save your portion of the tax return.
Other Important Considerations
An interest rate of 6 percent accrues annually on child support arrears in Texas. If your husband experienced a significant loss of income or recently suffered a medical hardship, he may be eligible to request a child support modification to adjust the current support payment. Although he will still be responsible for paying the arrears, he can prevent the balance from becoming unmanageable. Unpaid child support can result in license suspension and jail time for the noncustodial parent. Legal aid organizations throughout Texas can provide free or reduced-cost legal advice or representation.
Jeannine Mancini, a Florida native, has been writing business and personal finance articles since 2003. Her articles have been published in the Florida Today and Orlando Sentinel. She earned a Bachelor of Science in Interdisciplinary Studies from the University of Central Florida.