As a family law attorney, I encounter a variety of different kinds of child custody and child support issues. Sometimes clients are ordered to pay court ordered child support and adverse events place the client at risk of meeting their child support obligations. One can hardly go through a day without hearing about the 9.2% unemployment and my clients can be among these numbers and often seek legal council after their divorce is long over. With the downturn in the economy, a client’s ability to pay child support is in peril and my clients who ordinarily have a solid payment history recognize that they are in jeopardy of meeting their child support obligations and require child support modifications. Sometimes matters escalate and the Office Attorney General gets involved and my client experiences anxiety which in combination with life stressors is usually when they seek the advice of a family law attorney.
The Office of the Attorney General represents the State of Texas and cannot represent individuals involved in child support suits. As mandated by Title IV-D of the Social Security Act of 1975 and designated by the State of Texas, the Office of the Attorney General is responsible for the establishment and enforcement of child support.
Sometimes for economic reasons such as underemployment or lengthy time finding work, my clients who have a consistent payment record find themselves with little recourse than to seek legal advice from me to address their court ordered child support payments. A well-intentioned individual can find themselves falling behind in child support payments which can be rectified by a variety of methods.
The attorney general will usually file a contempt action for back due child support arrearages. There are a variety of defenses to this action. One obvious defense is payment. The child support obligator can show such things as canceled checks, money orders, or other documents establishing proof of payment. Another defense to a child support contempt action is inability to comply. To prove this, the obligor must show that he lacked the ability to provide support in the amount ordered. The obligor can also show that he or she had possession of the child and provided actual support to the child to avoid past due child support arrearages. The possession that they had must have been greater than the court ordered possession.
The child support obligor can also seek to have the child support order modified so as to reduce his or her liability for payments. This is usually based upon a reduction in income that makes it to where the obligor has less income available to pay child support. This can significantly reduce the required child support payments by a party, but must generally be filed not earlier than three years from the rendition of the prior child support order. This three year requirement can be circumvented if there has been a material and substantial change in circumstance since the prior order was rendered. Some examples of this would be a change in paternity, a change in residence of the child, a change in the child’s needs, or the birth of another child.
Another way to avoid having further child support child payments accrue is to file for a modification in custody. In this scenario, the parent paying child support becomes the primary custodian of the children and obtains the right to receive child support payments from the other parent. The court can modify custody by the parents agreement, by looking at the child’s preference if over the age of 12, by one parent voluntarily giving up possession of the child to the other parent, or if there has been a material and substantial change in circumstance of either the parents or the children. Such things that would constitute a material and substantial change would be when the child’s home environment changes, remarriage of a parent, or frequent moves by a parent.
In any of these actions, the Attorney General will be present to protect the interests of the State of Texas in making sure that the child support payments, whether past, present, or future, are being made. They want the parents to take responsibility for the support of their children and will make sure that support is being provided to them by the parent ordered to pay child support. The Attorney General allows the parents to work out any custody issues by themselves and only represents the State of Texas in the child support aspect of the case. Many times, this is because the children subject of the suit are receiving state funded aid which the State of Texas would rather have a parent pay for than the Texas’ taxpayers. But, they will also be involved when the court ordered child support payments are not being paid to the Child Support disbursement unit in San Antonio, Texas as ordered by the court.
I can help you deal with the various issues that arise when the Attorney General gets involved in your child support case. This would be by either getting the child support payments reduced or eliminated all together. In addition, I can address back due child support and attempt to get that amount reduced as well. The child support order affects your financial future, and you need an experienced attorney to help you address these issues. Please give me a call to discuss how I can help you with these matters.
Contact us today to discuss your case and to see how we can help you.
Law Office of John Denke
Mobile: (469) 328-1653
Office: (972) 436-8000
Fax: (972) 436-8801
401 East Corporate Dr
Lewisville, TX 75057
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Disclaimer: No information or materials posted here are intended to constitute legal advice, and is not applicable to any specific set of facts, especially as to any individual's personal situation. The information contained herein nor the perusal of it does not establish nor constitute an attorney-client relationship with the Firm or its Attorney.