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How to File a Support Order in Texas


Child support is the continuous payment made periodically by a parent for the benefit of the child. Different states provide different ways under their law on how to apply for a child support order. In Texas, the process of child support can overwhelm someone who does not have any idea what to expect. Being able to know what step will come next is helpful in preparing and going through the whole process. The following are the important steps in the process:

Establishing of Paternity

This is one of the most essential and important parts of a case for child support. Paternity is defined as  “legal fatherhood.” The establishment of paternity can help fathers have not only a legal relationship but also an emotional bond with the child or children. This process benefits the whole family. It is also important to remember that for parents that are unmarried, the birth father does not have any legal rights over the child until after paternity is established.

Obtain a Court Order

A person who wishes to file for support order must be file before the court  where the child lives. If the child is in another state, and the noncustodial parent lives in Texas, then the filing must take place in in the county where the other parent lives. Fill out the correct petition form for child support. The full names of each child, their birthdates, the one filing for child support’s name, his or her Social Security number and driver’s license, and the other parent’s name and address are the information that will be needed in the form. Some forms may need to be notarized. After notarization, make several copies before filing them with the court clerk. The court clerk will stamp on all the copies with the date of when they were filed. Afterwards, serve the other parent and send a copy of the motion to them.

Collect Child Support

Payments for child support may be made in a lump-sum or every certain period such as weekly, biweekly, or monthly. In some cases,  the non-custodial parent may be required by the court to set aside property or purchase an annuity. If Periodic Payment was the method of payment approved by the court, payment will be made to the state’s Child Support State Disbursement Unit (CSSDU). This unit will be the one to give the payments to the custodial parent.

Enforce Child Support

The non-custodial parent will be in “arrears” if the payment for child support have not been made in full. In this case, the parent who has custody can file a Motion to Enforce. The  help of the Attorney General may be needed for the enforcement of payment. The other parent must be notified of the enforcement action. The same method of service as the one used in the support suit will be the one used in serving the other parent. After the service, a court hearing will be held for the purpose of enforcement the payment for child support. There are several options for the collection of child support arrearages. A few examples of these options are freezing the bank accounts, placing a lien on the property of the non-custodial parent, seize and sell his/her property, and offset state and federal income tax returns.

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Mr. Hutton is a Divorce and Custody Lawyer based out of Round Rock, TX. His background is with child psychology at Arizona State University where he received a B.S. in 2006, and he continued this by working with the Children’s Right’s Clinic at the University of Texas School of Law where he received his J.D. in 2009. Throughout his practice, he has been a strong proponent of utilizing modern technology to improve his practice and the representation of his clients. He currently is the technology chair of CAFA of Travis County and is committed to improving and modernizing the practice of law in Texas.

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