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Many Texas parents struggling to afford child support

Last week we discussed the child support case of Deion Sanders, who is protesting a Texas court's decision to award more than $10,000 per month to the mother of his four children. The former pro football and baseball player, who now works as an NFL Network analyst, is complaining the amount he owes to his ex-wife is simply too high. While most Texas parents don't have the anywhere near the financial means that Sanders has, they can probably relate to his sentiment.

Recent figures indicate Texas parents owe almost $11 billion in child support payments. About 1 million parents have a formal child support obligation, but about 46 percent are behind on that obligation. The primary reason is a familiar one: Despite minor improvements in the economy, moms and dads are still struggling. Many are out of work, while others are underemployed and simply can't afford the amounts they owe.

One solution for parents who can't afford to make their child support payments is to work with a family law attorney to request a payment modification. This option can prevent parents from winding up in jail or having professional licenses revoked. It also demonstrates that you care about providing for your children, even if your income makes it difficult to pay what you owe. According to state officials, more parents are applying for modifications as the economy continues to lag.

On the other side of the equation, more parents with custody of their children are applying to have child custody obligations enforced -- their income often isn't adequate, either, and they need all the financial help they can get. An attorney can also help with this process, which often is directed at parents who simply refuse to pay any child support whatsoever. One Texas man is said to owe nearly $180,000 and state authorities believe he may have left the country.

Rather than absconding and in the process avoiding your obligations as this man did, your best bet may simply be to seek help so you can demonstrate that you want to do what you can for your children. Taking the initial steps toward child support modification is an acknowledgement that you're doing everything within your financial means to support them. And when your financial picture turns rosier, you can bump up those payments where they ought to be.

Source: Chron.com, "Report: Unpaid child support in Texas nearly $11B," Oct. 1, 2012

· Our firm handles child support modifications, enforcement and a wide variety of other family law issues. To learn more about our practice, visit our Dallas child support page.

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