Child Support Enforcement in Texas
There are two primary ways to enforce child support in Texas:
- by hiring a Williamson County or Austin family law attorney or
- by using the Texas Attorney General’s office.
USING THE TEXAS ATTORNEY GENERAL’S OFFICE
The Texas Attorney General’s Office (TXOAG) has a Child Support Division devoted to setting and enforcing child support. If you haven’t been receiving court-ordered child support payments, you can contact the child support division to help with child support enforcement.
The primary advantage to using the TXOAG is that their services are free, however, there are some potential disadvantages that you should be aware of:
If the TXOAG sues to enforce child support, they are acting on behalf of the state, not either parent. This means that it is not their job to give you legal advice or represent your interests, which can be especially problematic if the opposing party has hired an attorney to defend against the suit or is trying to reduce their child support obligation.
The TXOAG has a very heavy caseload, meaning that the enforcement process usually takes much longer than it would if a private attorney was involved.
WORKING WITH A FAMILY LAWYER in Williamson County
A private family child support attorney can sue to enforce child support on your behalf, and can generally operate on a much shorter timetable than the TXOAG.
A private attorney also represents your interests and can advise you on any additional legal action that should be made part of the enforcement action.
WHICH METHOD IS BEST FOR YOU?
Deciding whether to use the TXOAG or a private attorney can be difficult. Whenever I meet with a client to discuss enforcing a child support obligation, I help them weigh the pros and cons of both. This decision can be affected by the following factors (among others):
how far behind on support the other parent is;
whether or not the other parent is working;
whether or not the other parent has the money to repay what they owe;
how urgent it is for the parent to recover the past due child support; and
what it will cost to enforce the obligation.
If a client risks spending more in legal fees than the amount of support they are likely recover, I usually advise them to work with the TXOAG. However, if the child support arrearage is large enough to make the legal fees worthwhile and there’s a good chance of recovering attorney’s fees as well, using a private attorney can be a more efficient approach.