Wednesday, January 5, 2000
AUSTIN - Texas Attorney General John Cornyn today appeared in the Dallas courtroom of Judge Andrew Leonie to prosecute four noncustodial parents who owe a combined total of $79,309.92 in child support.
In these cases, the noncustodial parents have repeatedly failed to pay their court-ordered child support and have been to court at least once for child support enforcement proceedings but still have not paid their child support. As a result of the hearings, these parents must pay amounts ranging from $1,000 to $3,000 for delinquent child support or risk going to jail.
"I am here today because I want Texans to know I am serious about enforcing child support. My staff and I will make every effort to see that families receive the child support they are due," said Attorney General Cornyn.
"We are careful to differentiate between dead beat and dead broke parents. Non-custodial parents lacking the means to earn a living and pay child support are dead broke. We will refer cooperative dead broke parents to job training and employment programs. On the other hand, dead beat parents have the financial resources to fulfill their responsibilities for their children, but refuse to do so," said Cornyn.
The attorney general will receive payments totaling over $3,400. In one case, a parent overpaid the court-ordered amount in his case to avoid incarceration. Judge Leonie further admonished the noncustodial parents to pay the remainder of their back child support payments or face immediate incarceration without a hearing.
Civil measures such as wage withholding, interception of income tax returns and license suspension may also be used to compel compliance with child support court orders. Parents failing to comply with a court order can also be incarcerated for six months on civil grounds. Once civil remedies have been exhausted, they can also be prosecuted on a felony charge with a maximum prison sentence of two years and repayment of the arrears if convicted.
"Increasing the prosecution of parents who refuse to pay child support achieves two important goals. It enables us to put the worst offenders behind bars and encourages voluntary compliance from those who might attempt to skirt the law," said Cornyn.
The Attorney General's Child Support Division has the fourth largest caseload in the country with 1.2 million cases involving 2 million Texas children. In Dallas County, the Attorney General's office handles 126,413 cases for 211,110 children.
The Office of the Attorney General vigorously pursues parents violating court orders to pay child support. Dallas/Fort Worth area residents with information about delinquent noncustodial parents or other child support issues should contact the Office of the Attorney General by phone (1-972-339-3100), e-mail (firstname.lastname@example.org) or by mail - Office of the Attorney General, Child Support Division, P.O. Box 12017, Austin, TX 78711-2017.
- 30 -