child support contempt and enforcement in Texas

Child Support contempt

I have many client’s who are confused on when child support is considered late for purposes of contempt of court proceedings.  Most people read their decree literally when it says that support payments are due on the first of the month.  While it is true that it is due on that date, it is not considered late until thirty days have elapsed.

The reason for this is that most people are not paid there entire months check on the first of the month.  They are paid in weekly installments, on the first and fifteenth or every other Friday.

It may be easiest to show you an example:

  1. Donna Divorce is ordered to pay child support to Danny Divorce in the amount of $500 per month, with the first payment being ordered due and payable on September 1, 2010.
  2. Assume Donna is paid on the 1st and 15th of the month (semi-monhtly).
  3. She has submitted an employer’s order to withhold to her employer and they submit the first payment of $250 to the State Disbursement Unit in San Antonio (Attorney General’s Office) on September 1, 2010, the date she is paid.
  4. Obviously Donna did not get the full $500 payment on the 1st.  Is she in contempt?  No.
  5. Why?  Because her employer will submit the remaining $250 on the 15th of the month completing her payments for that month.
  6. That is why there is a thirty day cushion.

That was an easy one.   What if Donna is paid every other Friday (bi-weekly)?

  1. Assume her first paycheck is on September 3rd (a Friday).
  2. Since she is paid bi-weekly the amount that comes out of each check is $230.76.  I will go over how I got that number below.
  3. On September 3rd her employer submits a payment to the disbursement unit of $230.76.
  4. They submit another payment on the 17th of September, her next paycheck date.  Same amount, $230.76.
  5. Her next payment is not until October 1st.
  6. Obviously she is contempt because she only paid $461.52 for the month of September, correct?  That is not correct.
  7. Why?  Because although she may be a bit behind in September, later in the year there will be a month where she pays three time, which would catch her up.  Get it?
  8. For instance in October she will be paid three times instead of two.  For the month of September and October she should have paid $1000.  She paid $461.52 for September, but in October she paid $692.28 (three paychecks that month) for a total over the two months of $1,153.80.
  9. Just like she was not in contempt for September, she does not get money back for September and October.  Why?  Because there will be a month later that she only makes two payments.

At this point you are asking yourself how one would even keep track of this.  Look at it on a yearly basis because no matter how they are paid, weekly, bi-weekly, semi-monthly, or monthly, the number will all equal the same amount at the end of the year.  Per our example above:

  • $500 per month x 12 months = $6,000 for the year.
  • $250 semi monthly (on the 1st and 15th) x 24 payments = $6,000 for the year.
  • $230.76 bi-weekly (every other Friday) x 26 payment = $6,000 for the year.
  • $115.38 weekly x 52 payments = $6000 for the year.

You figure the installments as follows:

  • $500 a month is self explanatory.
  • If a person is paid on the 1st and 15th, then they are paid twice per month.  That is 24 times per year.  $500 divided by two is $250.
  • If person is paid bi-weekly or every other Friday, that is not two payments per month.  As we have seen above, some months are three payments.  Take $500 x 12 months = $6,000.  Divide $6,000 by 52 weeks in a year gives you $115.38 per week.  That number times two is $230.76.
  • The weekly number is $115.38 as just calculated.

I hope I have not made this more confusing because I am trying to help here.  Bottom line, because you do not receive the fully child support payment on the first of the month does not necessarily mean that the other side is in contempt.  There is a thirty day cushion.

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17 Responses to child support contempt and enforcement in Texas

  1. G August 6, 2012 at 11:22 am #

    Thanks, I thought it was due on the 1st and 15th.

  2. G August 6, 2012 at 11:24 am #

    Thanks, I thought it was due on the 1st and 15th exactly

  3. P November 28, 2012 at 11:38 am #

    The information is good, wish a judges would tell that when you get your custody paperwork….my only question is why, if it is due on the 1st, do they allow a 30 day grace period? This should be considered like any other bill, and if I pay something late, I get charged a late fee, there is no grace period. The courts need to understand that many parents paying support (like my ex) use this as an excuse not to pay when they’re suppose to.

  4. P October 19, 2015 at 9:36 am #

    If they are to pay $500 a month…agreed to that in court. but only pay between $37-$97 each month for 2 children. After how long is that in contempt?

  5. Chris Schmiedeke October 20, 2015 at 7:39 am #

    There is typically a 30 day grace period on child support. If it is due on the 1st, there is usually a grace period to the 30th for the full amount to be paid. After that, it is contemptible.

  6. Tina parker September 13, 2016 at 11:16 am #

    What if u work for Ur self and don’t have an employers order to withhold on file. Does the 30 day cushion law still apply to u.

  7. Maria May 2, 2017 at 7:44 am #

    My ex husband is late on child support the last payment he made was in February and it may now it’s there any thing I can do

  8. Chris Schmiedeke May 4, 2017 at 10:49 am #

    Contact an attorney and file an enforcement.

  9. Erica Garcia June 14, 2017 at 5:39 pm #

    What if the employer is the one making the late payments?? I’ve been with this company for 1 1/2 yrs and almost all of the payments were late (from 3 – 11 days – 27 late payments!). It was reported to the supervisor and I was told someone will replace the girl that was in charge if submitting them, I also spoke to an officer with the OAG and was told the interest from late payments was keeping my balance from decreasing as quickly. I’m supposed to meet with company owner tomorrow.. should they compensate the interest and fees or do I have to accept what has happened??

  10. James Garth October 31, 2017 at 7:13 pm #

    I am ordered to pay 245$ on the 1st however due to bills I cannot pay until the 8th will I go to jail for being late if my child’s mother presses the issue?

  11. Chris Schmiedeke November 1, 2017 at 11:29 am #


  12. Confused September 5, 2019 at 3:18 pm #

    I was just looking at this because I’m so confused. So I get $115.38 two times a month on an order of $500.00 per month. Sometimes I do get three payments of $115.38. What I would like to know if I need to look into this, its been like this for years. I use to get two payments of $230.76 the first few months and that changed. Thank you and I hope someone replies because I see this post is old.

  13. Chris Schmiedeke September 6, 2019 at 10:33 am #

    I do check this blog still, but my main site is now Understand that if child support in Texas is taken out of someone’s check, it comes out at the frequency of how they are paid. Meaning that if they are paid weekly, the child support is broken down to a weekly figure and that is how it comes out. Same if they are paid semi-monthly (1st and 15th) or bi-weekly (every other Friday).

    People get the bi-weekly and semi-monthly confused all the time. If someone is paid semi-monthly they are paid twice per month (usually 1st and 15th). That is 24 pay periods in year (12×2). However, if someone is paid bi-weekly (say every other Friday) then there are actually 26 pay periods in a year (52 weeks divided by 2). So you can see the dollar figure for each of those would be different. At the end of the year however, the total amount paid that year should be equal.

    In your case, if he is ordered to pay $500 per month, his payments would break down as follows:

    $500 a month if paid monthly;
    $250 if paid semi-monthly (each 1st and 15th by example);
    $230.76 every other Friday if paid bi-weekly; and
    $115.38 every week if paid weekly

    If the above is not happening in your case, then you may need to enforce your order. Contact a local attorney and discuss the enforcement of the child support order.

  14. Zachary December 19, 2019 at 6:58 am #

    I’m ordered to get 477 a month plus 36 or something like that towards insurance for my children. Her payments don’t come out of her check and she only gives me one payment for the month and it’s when ever she feels like it. In this months case it’s no payment yet as of the 19th. And she’s 1362 behind. We run a month late every single month on her help.

  15. Chris Schmiedeke February 25, 2020 at 9:12 am #

    It sounds like you need to possibly file an enforcement action against her. You will need to contact an attorney in the area where the order is out of and see what your options are.


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