Divorce is incredibly stressful, no matter the circumstances. This is especially true when children are involved. Depending on the custody settlements that are reached through the divorce hearing, child support may be assigned to one or both of the parents involved. This financial support is invaluable to ensure the health and safety of a child of divorce. How is child support enforced? We’re going to take a look at the protections in place here in Texas that make sure child support is collected and distributed properly. If you are in need of a child support law office in Austin, call the Law Office of Tobie Kuykendall today. We’ll use our years of experience to fight the good fight for you.

-Who Enforces Child Support

The Attorney General’s Office has a specific Child Support Division set up for exactly this purpose. They are able to assist parents in the process of obtaining financial support that is needed for children to grow up properly and succeed in their future. The Office of the Attorney General establishes paternity of children, establishes court orders for financial and medical support, and enforces any support orders handed down by the court as a way to encourage parental responsibility.

The Attorney General also encourages the involvement of both parents in their children’s lives by recommending community groups, schools, hospitals, or other charitable organizations as a way to set a good example, spend time with their children, and give back to the community at large. The Office of the Attorney General is also responsible for locating absent parents, establishing, enforcing, and modifying any child and medical support orders, and finally, collecting and distributing child support payments in the event they are not being paid as was ordered.

-Who Can Apply For Enforcement

The Office of the Attorney General will accept applications from mothers, fathers, and any other individuals who may request enforcement services. Anyone that applies for this service is unable to choose what type of enforcement actions are employed when their case is taken on by the Child Support Division. Anyone that receives Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) and certain recipients of Medicaid automatically receive these child support services when they qualify for these public assistance programs. While there is no charge to apply for these child support services, and many other services are provided at no cost, there may be a fee depending on the situation.

As of October 1, 2011, a custodial parent with a full-service case that has never received TANF assistance will pay a $25 fee for each year that the child support payments they receive are at least $500. Typically, these fees are automatically deducted from a child support payment. If a parent has more than one child support case, they will need to pay a fee for each case that meets these criteria.

-How Long Before Payments Begin

Because the process involved changes from case to case, there is no hard and fast timetable for when payments will be received. If a case includes the full range of services — locating an absent parent, establishing paternity and a support order, and enforcing the order — it will take longer than if any of those factors are unnecessary. For instance, if another divorce case contains a decree with an established child support order, a social security number for the parent in question, and information regarding the noncustodial parent’s employment status, the enforcement of payment can take place with the use of an administrative income withholding order.

-What Information and Documents Are Needed

If the Office of the Attorney General must locate the noncustodial parent, there are some pieces of information they will need to begin the process.

  • Current or last known employer of noncustodial parent
  • Social Security Number and date of birth
  • Names and addresses of relatives and friends
  • Names of banks or creditors that may be connected to noncustodial parent
  • Names of clubs, organizations, or unions the noncustodial parent may belong to
  • Any places the noncustodial parent may spend their free time

The Attorney General will also need these documents if they are available:

  • Divorce Decree, separation agreement, or court order for child support
  • Acknowledgement of paternity, if one has been signed
  • Children’s birth certificates
  • All documents detailing the income and assets for both parents (e.g. pay stubs, tax returns, bank statements, etc.)
  • Evidence of past child support payments

-Obtaining an Agreed Order

A parent with an open child support case may establish an agreed paternity and child support order. To do this, they will participate in what is called the Child Support Review Process (CSRP) negotiation conference. Based on which local office is handling the case, a CSRP negotiation meeting may already be scheduled, or one may need to be requested from the office.

-Grandparents’ Rights

Depending on the circumstances, a grandparent may be able to open a child support case in order to establish paternity and/or obtain court-ordered child support. These circumstances are:

  • If the grandparent was appointed as the grandchild’s legal guardian and the grandparent requires assistance in either enforcing or modifying an existing child support order.
  • If the grandparent in question is a recipient of government support, like TANF or Medicaid, they may need to cooperate with the Office of the Attorney General to establish a child support order with the child’s biological parents.
  • If the grandparent can prove the child has been living with and under the supervision of the grandparent.

-Can Child Support Be Changed

The only way a child support order can be modified is by the Court, which means it cannot be adjusted, even through an agreement between the parents. Modification of the child support order may be required if there is a material and substantial change in circumstances for the child(ren) or either parent affected by the order. After three years, the child support order may be amended and a difference in monthly payments may be made, adjusting it by either 20 percent or $100, depending on the situation and child support guidelines.

There are many more facets involved when it comes to child support and its enforcement than we can get into here. It changes based on each different case, the circumstances of the parents, the location of a noncustodial parent, and many other factors. If you want to learn more about your rights regarding child support, getting assistance from the government to enforce an established child support order, or any other factors that may be at play before or after your divorce, please call The Law Offices of Tobie Kuykendall. We understand how stressful this situation is for you and your children, but we will fight for you to get you what you deserve, and what your child needs to thrive.