A reader of the Houston Chronicle recently posed a question regarding an out-of-state parent and child support payments. The question posed was as follows: “Our daughter has been raising her two teenage sons. Her ex-husband who lives out of state is over $60,000 in arrears in child support. He can't keep a job. Can the Texas attorney general take action? What other steps can she take to get what she is legally entitled to?” Luckily for her and others, a parent has options when an out-of-state parent is behind or refuses to pay for Texas child support.
Texas Child Support Law
States are required to work together when one parent is out-of-state and not making required child support payments. The Texas Attorney General's Office, Child Support Division helps parents who are not receiving child support from an out of state parent. The Uniform Interstate Family Support Act (UIFSA) controls child support orders that occur over state lines as well as defines the options available for collecting unpaid support.
Under the UIFSA, to register an order to an out-of-state parent, the initiating state agency sends the order and related documents to the responding state agency. The responding state agency then registers the order and sends a notice to the parent who did not request the order in that state. The out-of-state parent has twenty days to object to the order's registration. This process also includes hearings to address any child support that is in arrears and how it will be repaid.
Options for Obtaining Child Support
States now have more power to collect support from parents who are behind in their child support payments who live in other states. The UIFSA allows states to enforce their orders without the assistance of the state agency where the out-of-state parent lives.
The first option is to send the notice of arrears directly to the other parent's employer. The notice can require that the employer deduct the child support from their wages. Another option is to work with the other state's agencies to collect the child support. This can be done in a variety of ways: enforcement hearings, state and federal license suspensions (hunting, fishing, gun, etc.), and incarceration of the delinquent parent if it becomes necessary.
One important note about enforcing out-of-state child support orders is that once an enforcement order is registered in another state it cannot be modified by that state. Any modifications will have to be made in Texas. Another important note is that if there are multiple orders, even if the support is no longer ongoing, the registering state will make its own determination on the amount of arrears owed on all orders.
Contact a Texas Family Law Attorney
Collecting child support that is in arrears from an out-of-state parent can be a complex and messy issue. If you or someone that you know is having difficulty collecting child support or has any other questions regarding family law in the Houston or Galveston area, let the experienced attorneys at The Law Office of Lori E. Laird, PLLC help. Call the office or contact us today for a free and confidential consultation of your case.