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Child support error leads to jail time for unsuspecting Texas dad

Dallas residents are taking note of an unusual case that resulted in a Texas father going to jail even though he became current on his child support payments. The man's dilemma began when he was informed there was a problem with his automatically deducted child support payments.

The man was notified by mail that he still owed almost $3,000 in late child support payments for his 11-year-old son. The man paid back $1,000 more than he owed and notified his attorney about the situation. When the man's attorney contacted the attorney representing his ex-wife, she was surprised to learn that his ex was unwilling to resolve the matter out of court. The opposing counsel notified the man's attorney that she wanted $3,500 in attorney's fees and was confident that she would get it from the judge.

Her refusal to settle resulted in the case going to trial, where a recently passed Texas child support law led to unexpected consequences. Beginning in June of 2013, individuals who have fallen behind on their child support payments can be sent to jail, even after they bring their child support payments current. The judge in the case sentenced the man to the maximum allowed sentence of six months. With no opportunity to appeal the decision, the man reported to jail and is currently serving his half-year sentence.

Even after the divorce is final, individuals who share parenting responsibilities with a former spouse sometimes find themselves facing complicated situations. Family law attorneys may be able to help their clients navigate the legal system and structure individualized solutions for unexpected problems.

Source: The Huffington Post, "Clerical Error In Child Support Payments Leads To Six-Month Jail Sentence For Clifford Hall ", January 25, 2014

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Bruce Turner

In addition to his law degree, Bruce Turner has a master's degree in tax law and is Board Certified in Commercial Real Estate Law by the Texas Board of Legal Specialization.

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