What’s the Difference Between Child Support Judgment and Child Support Order in Texas?

The Internet is undoubtedly wonderful when it comes to spreading information and sharing real-life experiences, though it may also help contribute to creating confusion regarding the use of technical terms. In regard to child support, some people may be misinformed about the meaning of the terms child support judgment and child support order. In some online articles, the author may even interchange the terms, or use them as synonyms for each other.

Technically, however, these terms have different meanings, despite the fact that they may originate from the same judge.

The definitions of the term

When it comes to the child support order, this is the decision handed down by the court which designates the non-custodial parent to pay an amount of money for child support. It is essentially a legal document, which specifies the amount to be paid, the deadlines for the payment, and for how long. Some of these orders have somewhat vague terms used in the language—among the most contentious are the arguments regarding the meaning of the word “reasonable”—which has been the root cause of rather extended court hearings.

The term “child support judgment” refers to other decisions by the judge regarding the payment of the child support. Specifically, it may be more accurate to state that these judgments often pertain to the non-payment of the child support amount. The judgment may be about the various methods that a custodial parent may be allowed to take in order to ensure that the payment is made. The judgment may also be punitive in nature, delineating the punishment (such as fines and even jail time) that the violator may face, for not paying the amount specified by the specified date and therefore for being in contempt of court.

Enforcing the collection of the child support amount

The non-payment of child support obligations is now one of the more common crimes in the country, given the rising rates of divorce and separation and the current economic slowdown which may make it more difficult for non-custodial parents to afford the specified amount or to be able to make them by a specified date. But the underlying principle of child support is not just the convenience of the parents; it is the best interests of the child.

To this end, without a formal modification of the original child support order, the non-custodial parent can request a judgment from the court to authorize alternative methods of collection for the payment.
For example, the wages of the non-custodial parent may be garnished. His employer may be furnished with papers signifying the judgment of the court along with the child support order form, and the employer can be compelled to send the specified amount from the wages of the non-custodial parent straight to the custodial parent. A lien may also be placed on the non-custodial parent’s bank accounts and assets, from which the specified amount can be extracted.

Punitive judgments

The court may also hand over punishments for non-payment. Additional fines can be imposed, and the custodial parent’s legal fees can be reimbursed. In addition, serious and/or repeated violations of the child support order may result in a child support judgment that involves spending some time in jail.