Do any of you read this blog post follow the news closely? Whatever your particular political persuasion is, I think we can all agree that depending upon the news outlet that you are reading or listening to that there can be highly biased reporting that is going on in our country right now. This applies to both sides of the aisle. If you want to find an article that matches your political leanings, you should have no problem doing so. A simple Google search will help you find what you are looking for.
How do these reporters and writers come up with these stories, you may be asking? I think writers will have a theory or an idea that they want to be accurate and will then seek out statistics, quotes, or other information that will help reinforce that previously held belief. Instead of doing research and investigating a topic on its own merits, a conclusion that has already been reached will be reinforced by the little research done. This is no way to write an article or consume the news from the general public's perspective.
How do the previous two paragraphs relate to family law and specifically child support enforcement cases? 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. Likewise, proving to a judge that you have been making payments just not through the Child Support Registry of the Attorney General leaves much to be desired as far as how to achieve that particular goal.
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. While you will find that your case and your situation likely do not match up perfectly with what I am starting today, 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- telling you that he will begin to pay you back in full as soon as his sales numbers at work improve. Or as soon as he clears up some debt he's incurred. Or as soon as…you get the idea. You're tired of it, and your child is struggling as much as you are due to his not paying the required amounts of support.
What can you do about this? I would 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 understand precisely what is expected of him and whether or not he is living up to 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 "IV-D court," 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'll 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.
Suppose you can hire a qualified and robust family law attorney, draft and file your required documents, and efficiently notify your ex-spouse of the lawsuit. In that case, you are light years ahead in terms of your case than where you might be had you proceeded without a lawyer. You save time, money, and effort and allow yourself to brainstorm with your attorney on how you will accomplish the objectives of your case. While we haven't gotten you your back child support yet, I think you can see that the beginning stages of a child support enforcement case can impact your result more than you may have previously 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.