In a child support case, the court can award retroactive child support which is repayment of monies spent for the care of the supported children.
It represents income owed to the supporting parent in the past.
Termination of parental rights does not eliminate the arrearage that may be due at the time of the termination.
Only the supporting parent (usually the mother) can modify/ reduce the amount of the child support arrearage owed.
A Houston judge shall award attorney’s fees for collection of child support arrearage owed and the judge shall determine as to how much these attorney fees shall be.
If a father does not know about a child that he has fathered, the retroactive child support is limited to four years.
If a father does know about a child that he has fathered, retroactive child support may be ordered to the time of the birth of the child.
It is extremely important that a child support order be put in place before a child turns 18 years of age. In not doing so, it may completely eliminate a parent's ability to collect any retroactive child support.
How may a Houston court enforce child support?
Either by the initiation of a private entity/attorney, Friend of the Court, Domestic Relations Office or the Attorney General’s Office, a court may enforce a child support order by contempt, by money judgment, by imposing a lien on the personal or real property of a person owing support, or by an order that income be withheld from the disposable earning of the person owing support.
What are the defenses to failure to pay support as ordered by the court?
- The person with possession of the child voluntarily relinquished actual possession and control of the children to the person owing child support.
- The person owing support lacked the ability to provide support in the amount ordered.
- The person owing support lacked property that could be sold, mortgaged, or otherwise pledged to raise the funds needed.
- The person owing support attempted unsuccessfully to borrow the funds needed and knew of no source from which the money could have been borrowed or legally obtained.
What if a parent ordered to pay support refuses to do so?
- The parent owing child support may be held in contempt and sent to jail until the support is paid.
- A money judgment may be entered against the person owing child support.
- A child support lien may be filed against real or personal property of the parent owing child support.
- Personal or professional licenses of the person owing child support may be suspended.
If a person’s parental rights are terminated do they still owe child support?
Yes, termination of parental rights terminates only future payment of child support but does not eliminate any arrearage that accrued prior to the time of termination.
What is the standard of proof in a contempt proceeding?
The standard of proof in a contempt proceeding is “beyond a reasonable doubt” since the person owing the child support faces jail time.
The standard of proof in a compliance hearing or other matter ancillary to the contempt hearing is “preponderance of the evidence.” That is evidence which as a whole shows that the fact sought to be proved is more probable than not.
More simply put, it is evidence which is more credible and convincing to the mind or that degree of proof that is more probable than not and as a whole carries a greater weight.
Is a failure to pay child support a criminal offense?
Yes, it can be prosecuted as a Class B misdemeanor with a fine of up to $500 and jail time no longer than six months.
Is there a statute of limitations on a child support collection case?
Not on a collection suit based on an existing or prior court order.
If no court order exists, the case must be filed before the children reaches the age of 18 or the collection may be barred.
If a father is not aware of the child’s existence prior to a paternity action, the retroactive child support may be limited to the four years prior to the filing of the suit.
Who pays the attorney’s fees in a child support collection case?
If the court finds that a person has failed to make child support payments (Obligor), the court shall order that person (Obligor) to pay the other’s (Obligee) reasonable attorney’s fees and all court costs.
What is UIFSA?
UIFSA stands for the Uniform Interstate Family Support Act. The definition of UIFSA can be found in Section 159 of the Texas Family Code. The UIFSA is the standard by which suits for child support and or modification are governed interstate.
If a child support order is made by an out of state court, does that have any effect on whether can bring a child support collection case in a Texas court?
Does interest accrue on unpaid child support?
Yes, interest accrues on the portion of delinquent child support that is greater than the amount of the monthly periodic support obligation at the rate of six percent simple interest per year.
It is accrued from the date the support is delinquent until the date the support is paid or the arrearages are confirmed and reduced to a money judgment.
Office of the Attorney General Involvement (OAG)/ Friend of Court/ Do I need a family law attorney?
If you have been served by the Attorney General for collection of unpaid or past due child support, you may want to employ a family law lawyer.
It’s true the Attorney General will work directly with you to resolve the matter and make payment arrangements for the amount due.
However, if you feel you do not owe the amount due or any amount of child support, you should employ a Houston child support attorney to protect your best interests.
The Office of the Attorney General will initiate a suit to collect court ordered past due or unpaid child support.
The Attorney General does NOT represent you (Obligee) or the children. The Attorney General represents the best interests of the State of Texas.
The Attorney General is obligated to enforce court ordered child support to insure that children are not placed on welfare WHEN there are other means of assistance, such as court ordered child support, available.
Do you need a lawyer to file for child support in Texas?
You would not hire a plumber to perform brain surgery, right?
The business of law is best left to those who deal with it daily.
It is your constitutional right to represent yourself but do you know enough about the child support laws governing to protect your best interests?
Without proper legal representation and a sound knowledge of the law, you could end up paying too much, or worse, going to jail.
Do I need an child support attorney to collect past due, delinquent, or unpaid support?
No, the Office of the Attorney General will initiate a suit to collect court ordered past due or unpaid child support. The Attorney General does NOT represent you (Obligee) or the child.
The Attorney General represents the best interests of the State of Texas.
The Attorney general is obligated to enforce court ordered child support to insure that children are not placed on welfare WHEN there are other means of assistance, such as court ordered child support, available.
Child Support Collection: Attorney General vs. Private Attorney?
The Attorney General will enforce a child support order on behalf of the State of Texas.
The Attorney General will also establish support payments to the custodial parent.
I pay child support through the Office of the Attorney General (OAG). Will the OAG assist me in enforcing my rights as a non-custodial parent?
No, the Office of the Attorney General (OAG) works for the State of Texas to enforce child support ordered by the Court. Since the OAG does not work for either the custodial or non-custodial parent, enforcement of access and possession would be up to a) the Friend of the Court or b) hiring a private attorney.