The Beginning Stages of a Child Support Enforcement Case

From my experience, people considering hiring an attorney and beginning a child support enforcement case do so only with the results in mind. On top of this, their goals may not even be that clear. Having your ex-spouse pay you all the child support she owes is a goal, but not a very clear one. Similarly, convincing a judge that you have been making payments, albeit not through the Texas Child Support Office or Child Support Registry of the Attorney General, presents significant challenges in terms of strategy.

This blog post from the attorneys with the Law Office of Bryan Fagan, PLLC, will introduce to you how to begin a child support enforcement case in Texas. Your case and situation may not perfectly align with what I鈥檓 starting today. However, you should be in a position where you have more knowledge on this vital subject. Armed with the knowledge, you can make better decisions and proceed with your case.

Contemplating an enforcement case for child support

It has been two years since your divorce, and your husband has stopped paying his child support. He did make payments for the first few months after your divorce, but now those payments rarely, if ever, come. When they do, they are only partial payments. When you press him on this subject, he is evasive. He promises to repay you in full once his work sales improve.聽Or, whenever he clears up some debt he鈥檚 incurred. Or, whenever鈥 you grasp the frustration. You鈥檙e worn out by it. Your child is struggling as much as you are due to his failure to pay the required support amounts.

What can you do about this? I recommend that you go to your file cabinet and dust off that copy of your Final Decree of Divorce. Read the section on Child Support and make sure that you understand what it says. If you do not, go and speak to an attorney. Your former attorney may even be willing to walk you through the requirements for free. You need to precisely understand what is expected of him and whether he is fulfilling his end of the bargain.

Once you understand what your decree states as far as a child support requirement, you will need to log onto the internet and go to the Office of the Attorney General (OAG) and figure out what is owed in child support after two years, what has been paid and what the difference is. It could be that the amount of child support owed at this point is creeping closer to $20,000. This is a substantial amount of money, and you ought to feel the way you do about things- upset. Now that you understand what is ordered in your decree and you know exactly what is owed, you have a decision to make.

Decisions, decisions: Whether or not to hire a lawyer or to proceed through the Child Support Courts

You have the option to contact the OAG to initiate a child support enforcement case against your ex-spouse. The OAG represents the State of Texas, however, and not you. Their interests are to recoup these payments on your behalf, but they do so only to ensure that the law is followed and your child does not become dependent on any state programs for assistance. Their courts, known as 鈥淚V-D court,鈥 have lengthy delays in actually going before a judge. Even when you get the opportunity to present your case, you do not possess specialized legal knowledge of child support law. You鈥檒l be left to your own devices to win back the $20,000 you are owed.

On the other hand, you can decide to hire a family law attorney to represent you. In doing so, you are not guaranteeing yourself a particular result. There are no guarantees in a family law case or any legal case for that matter. However, there are advantages to hiring an attorney. Foremost among them is that you have a partner and advocate who is experienced and knowledgeable in the field that you are entering into. This provides peace of mind and practical advantages alike. Pay for an attorney, and your chances of achieving those goals we discussed at the outset of this blog increase in all likelihood.

File your Petition for Enforcement and serve your ex-spouse

Assuming that you hire a family law attorney to represent you in the enforcement case, your attorney will draft and file a Petition for Enforcement in the district court that has continuing jurisdiction over your case. You can set up a hearing date to present your case to the judge and notify your ex-spouse of that date. Once the documents are filed, a hearing date is assigned, and copies for filing and service have been made, your attorney will send their private process server to the courthouse to retrieve the documents.

Once the documents have been received, the process server will go to the address that you have provided to your attorney as the location you want your ex-spouse served. If you do not have a specific address in mind, your attorney can help you think of a good place. If you do not have information about where your ex-spouse resides, your attorney can run a background search on the individual to assist in locating a suitable place for service.

Your ex-spouse has twenty days to file an Answer to your Petition for Enforcement. Their Answer will specify any defenses available to your enforcement claim and ensure that you cannot show up to court without him present and get a judgment.

The beginning of an enforcement case sets the tone for the remaining parts.

If you hire a good family law attorney, file the necessary documents, and inform your ex-spouse properly. This way, you鈥檒l be way ahead in your case compared to going without a lawyer. This saves time, money, and effort and lets you plan with your attorney. Even though we haven鈥檛 got your back child support yet, it鈥檚 clear that the early stages of a child support enforcement case can greatly affect the result, maybe more than you thought.

Questions about starting a child support enforcement case in Texas? Contact the Law Office of Bryan Fagan, PLLC

Did you know that the attorneys with the Law Office of Bryan Fagan, PLLC represent clients across southeast Texas? Whether you live in Houston, The Woodlands, Baytown, Galveston, Katy, or Waller, we have experienced successful results for our clients and their families in all of these venues. We consider it an honor to work for you and will do our best to represent you and your interests in and out of the courtroom.

To learn more about our office, please contact us for a free of charge consultation. Our licensed family law attorneys can meet with you six days a week to answer questions.

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  1. Houston, TX Child Support Enforcement
  2. What to do when you are on the receiving end of a child support enforcement lawsuit in Texas
  3. Child Support Enforcement cases in Texas IV-D courts
  4. Jurisdictional issues in a Texas child support enforcement case
  5. Important aspects of infrequently discussed issues in child support enforcement suits
  6. Important yet infrequently discussed issues in child support enforcement
  7. Family Law Cases in Texas: Defenses to Child Support Enforcement Suits
  8. Defending against a Child Support Enforcement Case
  9. How much will your child support enforcement case cost?
  10. Child Support Enforcement Defense 鈥 Act Sooner Rather than Later
  11. Child Support Enforcement Actions in Texas
  12. Texas Child Support Enforcement

Frequently Asked Questions About Child Support in Texas

At what age can a child refuse visitation in Texas?

In Texas, children do not have the legal authority to refuse court-ordered visitation until they reach the age of 18. However, as they grow older, the court may consider their preferences.

What is the minimum child support in Texas?

The minimum child support amount in Texas can vary based on factors like the number of children and the non-custodial parent鈥檚 income. The court typically follows state guidelines to determine the appropriate minimum support amount.

How far behind on child support can someone be before facing jail time in Texas?

In Texas, being behind on child support payments is a serious matter. Generally, a non-custodial parent could potentially face jail time if they are significantly delinquent on payments, but specific circumstances and enforcement actions may vary.

What is the maximum amount of child support that can be taken in Texas?

In Texas, the state generally caps the maximum amount of child support that can be withheld from a non-custodial parent鈥檚 income at 50% of their disposable earnings, unless they are supporting another family. However, this percentage may change under certain conditions.

Does child support payments decrease if the father has another baby in Texas?

Having another child may influence child support calculations in Texas. If a non-custodial parent has additional children to support, it could potentially affect the amount of income available for child support, which might lead to a reduction in the child support obligation.

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