Know the child support process

Protect yourself and your children

Resolve financial and medical support for your children

Applying for
child support
through the
Office of the
Attorney
General
(OAG)
Applying for
child support as
a requirement of
a government
benefits
program (TANF,
Adult Medicaid,
Child Care
Services (CSS),
or housing assistance)
Receiving
child support
services because
the other parent
has applied for
child support
Preparing for
court and the
court process
Following
or modifying
a child
support order
Applying for or receiving
TANF or Adult Medicaid.
Applying for childcare services (CSS).
Receiving/applying for federally subsidized housing assistance (i.e. Section 8 or public housing).
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Paterntiy

Paternity means "being a legal father."   If a child is born while two people are married, or within 300 days of their divorce, the husband, or the ex-husband, of the mother will be presumed to be the father of the child.  This means that the father’s paternity is already recognized.  If a child is born to parents who are not married at the time of birth, paternity can be established one of three ways:

    • Both parents voluntarily complete an Acknowledgement of Paternity (AOP) (Note: When a child also has a presumed father, the mother and presumed father must also sign the AOP stating that the presumed father is not the child’s biological father);
    • An agreed court order (negotiated through the CSRP process in the child support office, or at court);
    • A non-agreed court order (the judge decides contested issues, this can occur when the case is pursued through CSRP or when filed directly with the court).

If you have any safety concerns about any of these options, contact your local child support office to discuss.

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Genetic Testing:


  • In a paternity case, fees for genetic testing are not assessed by the Office of the Attorney General in most cases.  However, if either party contests the results of the first test and requests a second test, fees will be requested.
  • If you want to receive genetic testing, ask the child support office that is handling your case to order genetic testing.
  • Ask if a "self-test" for your child, which can be conducted in a child support office, is possible in your area.
  • If your case involves family violence and you are told to bring your children to court for genetic testing, ask if it is possible to have testing done, when the other parent is not present because of safety concerns. 
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Family Violence Indicator


A family violence indicator will:

  • Flag your child support case for "family violence."
  • Restrict release of your contact information. 
  • Require that any legal actions are addressed at court, rather than through a CSRP negotiation conference with the other parent in the child support office.
  • Not require that you  negotiate in the same room or at the same table as the other parent at court.

*Note: Even if you have a Family Violence Indicator on your case, it is important to ask child support staff about safety precautions for your court date. Go to the preparing for court and court process button for safety precautions.
** Keep in mind that even though the OAG will take steps to keep parents separated at court, you may still see the other parent and if a hearing is required you may have to stand before the judge near the other parent. If this is not a safe option for you, go to Preparing for Court section for telephone hearing options.
***After you have submitted the appropriate documentation to child support staff, call your OAG office that handled your case after five days and make sure that a Family Violence Indicator has been placed on your case.

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CHILD SUPPORT REVIEW PROCESS (CSRP):


Overview of the CSRP Process:
  • Most child support cases without a Family Violence Indicator will initially have legal actions initiated through a negotiation meeting or Child Support Review Process (CSRP) negotiation conference at a local child support office.
  • This involves both parents sitting in the same room and negotiating a child support order with a Child Support Review Officer. 
  • A CSRP establishment order will include: financial and medical support, custody, visitation, and, if necessary, paternity.  A CSRP enforcement order may include a judgment or a modification of child support terms.
  • Agreed orders are then reviewed and presented to the court for approval.  If both parents cannot agree to all of the terms of the order, or if only one parent appears, any issues that have not been agreed to by all parties are presented to the court. 
  • Do not sign anything at a CSRP that you do not agree with.
  • If you do not come to an agreement during the CSRP, you can request a court hearing on the disputed issues, or the CSRP may be terminated and the case pursued judicially before the court.

What if CSRP is Not Safe for Me?
If you are given notice of a CSRP, call the child support office that is handling your case immediately and request that the CSRP be cancelled due to family violence concerns.

If you are in a CSRP negotiation conference, and have a history of family violence, you may ask to speak privately with Child Support staff to share your concerns. Doing this may stop the CSRP meeting and route your case to court. During the CSRP meeting, you do not have to agree to any part of the order.  If you do not agree with any of the terms, DO NOT SIGN THE ORDER AT THE CSRP MEETING. Your case will then be sent to court.  If you feel unsafe with ending a CSRP, ask child support staff to call law enforcement to arrange for safe departure/escort from the building.

**The role of the Child Support Review Officer (CSRO) is to represent the State of Texas and act as a facilitator during the negotiation conference.  The CSRO will not represent you or the other parent in the CSRP.  The CSRO will work with you and the other parent to prepare a child support order in the privacy of the negotiation room rather than through a public court hearing where the judge would determine the final order.

 

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Ask your HHSC/TANF case worker about GOOD CAUSE.

Good Cause waives the requirement to establish a child support order with the OAG, because doing so would pose a clear safety risk to you or your children. **Even if you receive a Good Cause waiver not to pursue child support, you will still have to give HHSC/TANF staff information on the absent parent—or risk losing your TANF benefits. 

  • Your HHSC/TANF case worker will refer you to a Family Violence Specialist at a family violence program. 
  • In order to receive good cause, your HHSC/TANF case worker will have you contact staff from a family violence program (sometimes referred to as a Family Violence Specialist).  The Family Violence Specialist will make a recommendation as to the "good cause" claim and inform your HHSC/TANF case worker. Sometimes this recommendation will be made verbally, over the phone, to your HHSC/TANF case worker or your caseworker.  Other times your HHSC/TANF case worker will instruct you to have Form H1706, recommending good cause, completed by staff at the local family violence program.
  • If this form is not completed prior to, or during your TANF interview, you will be given at least 10 days to contact the Family Violence Specialist and to return the completed H1706 form to HHSC/TANF.
  • If your case is not recommended for good cause, you will be required to cooperate with the OAG in pursuing child support in order to receive TANF benefits.
  • If your case is recommended for good cause, good cause will be granted and you can receive TANF benefits without applying for child support through the OAG. 
  • Your eligibility to receive TANF benefits is periodically re-evaluated (normally every six months) &mdash your HHSC/ TANF case worker should ask you if you would still like to have the good cause waiver.  If they do not ask you about this, ask them about the status of your good cause waiver, and make sure that it still applies to your case.  
  • Note: Even if you received good cause from child support requirements, you still must communicate with your Choices Case Manager at the local workforce center in order to receive Good Cause exemption from the work requirements of the TANF program.

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1. I am too scared to give information about the absent parent, because doing so may put me or my children in danger.
YOU HAVE OPTIONS:

  • Ask your TANF case worker/Texas Works Advisor about GOOD CAUSE
  • Apply for child support and ask child support staff about placing a Family Violence Indicator on your case. 
  • After applying for TANF benefits, the OAG will contact you first by mail.  It is very important to return all the requested information to the OAG by the given deadline.  Not doing so could lead to you losing your TANF benefits. 
  • Report family violence, or any safety concerns you have about the other parent, to the OAG after your case is opened.  It is important to report family violence to the OAG, even if you have already reported it to your HHSC/TANF caseworker or another government agency. 
  • Ask staff at the child support office that is handling your case about placing a Family Violence Indicator on your child support case.
  • In order to receive a Family Violence Indicator on your case, all you need to do is inform the Office of the Attorney General — Child Support Division about your safety concerns. The OAG will ask you to complete and submit an Affidavit of non-disclosure, which is a form that documents your safety concerns.You could also provide a copy of your protective order against the other parent (if one exists) or any police or medical reports that could help document family violence. 
  • Once the Family Violence Indicator is on your case, your contact information, such as your physical address, will not be printed on court documents unless required by the law, and if the court agrees, your address will not be made available to the other parent.  Your case will also be set for a court hearing, instead of a negotiation meeting with the other parent in the local child support office when it is necessary to file a legal action with the court.
  • Another resource to keep your address safe may be the Address Confidentiality Program (ACP). — ACP is administered by the OAG and provides eligible survivors with a substitute post office box and free mail forwarding to keep one’s actual physical address confidential.

2. I am uncomfortable sharing information about the absent parent because the pregnancy was a result of incest or rape.

  • Ask your HHSC/TANF case worker about GOOD CAUSE.  Good Cause waives the requirement to establish a child support order with the OAG, because the pregnancy was a result of rape or incest. 
  • . **Even if you receive a Good Cause waiver not to pursue child support, you will still have to give HHSC/TANF staff information on the absent parent—or risk losing your TANF benefits. 
  • You will be given 20 days to provide evidence to your HHSC/TANF case worker.  Types of acceptable evidence may vary on a case by case basis, but can include a police report or birth certificate with the father’s name.
  • There is a possibility for an extension of the 20 days, but that is up to the discretion of your HHSC/TANF case worker.  You will be required to submit a formal, written, request before they are allowed to extend the 20 days. 
  • Based on the evidence you provide, your HHSC/TANF case worker will decide whether or not to recommend your case for good cause which allows you to continue to receive benefits without cooperating with the OAG.
  • If your case is not recommended for good cause, you will be required to cooperate with the OAG in obtaining a child support order or risk losing your TANF benefits. 

3. I’m not sure who the absent parent is.

  • You will need to give information on any possible parents. 
  • Paternity will need to be established.
  • Even if you are not sure who is the father of your child, you will need to provide as much information about all possible fathers
  • If you do not have the name of, or any information about, the possible absent parent, you can put "unknown" for the absent parent.
  • In order to put "unknown" for the absent parent, you will be required to swear that the information you are providing is true to the best of your knowledge.  There can be legal consequences for providing false information to a government agency.

4. Paternity has not been established.

  • Paternity will need to be established as part of opening a child support case and establishing a child support order. Click here for more information on genetic testing.

5. Paternity and/or a child support order have already been established.

  • Paternity has been established and I have a child support order already.
    • Inform your advisor that there is already a child support case open or that child support has been ordered already.  You may need to provide evidence of the order, or proof of payments received to your HHSC/TANF case worker.

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A perjury statement is a legal document in which you swear that the information you are providing is true to the best of your knowledge. There can be legal consequences for providing false information to a government agency.
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One Week Prior to Court

  • Think through possible safe options for visitation and custody arrangements. If you are asking for specific safety precautions or no visitation, be prepared to bring documentation if possible of why this is necessary.
  • Talk to staff at the child support office that is handling your case in person or over the phone about your concerns and potential safety precautions that may be taken for your court date.
  • Ask about options to minimizing your contact with the other parent: ask if a telephonic court appearance is possible or will be allowed by the judge, request that you be placed “on call,” so you can wait to appear before the judge in a separate area away from the other parent, request court staff to arrange for separate entrances/exits and late or early arrivals/departures for you and the other parent.   
  • Ask about having security guards and bailiffs in the office building and court, especially if you are in a smaller town where they may not always be present.
  • If the staff member you speak to is unable to give you the information or assistance you need, ask to speak to the Office Supervisor, Office Manager, or the Office Ombudsman.
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The Day Before Court

  • Call the child support office and ask who the lead Assistant Attorney General (AAG) will be for your court hearing. 
  • Ask that  OAG staff inform court security and staff about your family violence situation before the court date. 
  • If possible, visit the court house in person or find it on a map before your court hearing so you know where it is located.  This will enable you to find a safe escape route from the court house, and look to see where the safest place to park would be, or where the nearest bus stop is located. 
  • Make arrangements for your child(ren) so that you don’t have to bring them to the court hearing.  If DNA testing is required, or has not been conducted, you may be asked to bring your child(ren) to court.  Click here for more information on genetic testing at a local child support office, while the other parent is not present.
  • Ask a family member, friend or advocate to attend the court hearing with you for support.
  • Prior to the court date, write down your main points or a statement you would like to make and bring them with you. It is normal for anyone to feel nervous about testifying in court. Writing down your points in advance can help you remember what you want to say.
  • Check and make sure that you have all the documents that you have to bring to court such as protective orders, police reports, text messages, etc. If the other parent has sent you letters or online messages that you feel demonstrate a threat to you, it is ok to bring those to court. You may also consider bringing a diary or calendar with dates and times of instances when the other parent has hurt or threatened you.
  • Keep in mind that you cannot bring a written statement from a friend or witness. If someone has information about your case that you think it is important for the court to hear, ask that person to come with you to court to testify.
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The Day of Court

  • Introduce yourself to the OAG staff and ensure that she/he is informed of the family violence situation and point out who the other parent is in the court room. 
  • If needed, ask security for an escort after the hearing.

While in court:

  • In many courts, parents are seen by an Assistant Attorney General (AAG) or child support officer (CSO) prior to going before the judge’s bench for a court hearing. If there is a Family Violence Indicator on your case, the AAG or CSO will meet with each parent separately to negotiate the order.
  • If any party to the case cannot agree on any of the terms of the child support order (paternity, child support, medical support, custody, visitation), a hearing before the judge will be necessary.
  • –When a hearing is held, parties swear to tell the truth when testifying before the judge.
  • Be prepared to speak about your wants, needs and concerns. Remember, it is okay to write out your testimony and read it before the judge.
  • The judge will determine what to include in the child support order.  This may include an establishment of paternity (legal fatherhood), financial and medical support, conservatorship (custody), and visitation.
  • If you realize during the hearing that you need more time to prepare documentation, prepare testimony, or research safe options, ask for a reset or temporary orders which will postpone the final determination of your case. A reset means you will come back to court on another date and start from scratch. A temporary order may address part or all of the issues in the child support order for a specified amount of time; if a temporary order is granted, you will have to come back to court to get a final order at a later date specified by the court.
  • After a child support order is finalized, both parents must comply with the court’s order. This means that the person ordered to pay child support must pay child support and the person with primary custody must allow any visitation that is ordered.
  • The OAG cannot modify or enforce visitation orders so it is very important not to sign a court order that is not safe for you or your children.- If you have a court order that is unsafe or you are not satisfied with you order, go to the next section re: modifying a child support order.
Applying for child support through the Office of the Attorney General (OAG)
  • You can apply in person at a child support office, online, or you can call your local child support office and request that an application be mailed to you. If you have safety concerns or a history of family violence, check "yes" in the Non-Disclosure of Information box at the top of your application when filling out your application.

  • The OAG will send you an information request to gather information about the child(ten) and the other parent.
    This information will be used to help the OAG locate the other parent and determine what legal actions are needed on the case.

  • If no child support order exists, an order will be established, which may include financial and medical support, as well as custody and visitation. Paternity will also be established at this time, if necessary.

  • Paternity must be established before a court can order child support. If your child's paternity has to be established and you would like genetic testing, notify the child support office that is handling your case as soon as possible after the child support case is opened. Click here for more information on genetic testing.

  • In a case where an order already exists for the child, the OAG assess the case to determine if child support is set at an appropriate amount and enforce any back child support that has not been paid.

  • If you have safety concerns about the child support process or if there is a history of family violence, it is important to contact the child support office that is handling your case to share your safety concerns.

  • Make sure that you have checked "yes" in the Non-Disclosure of Information box, which is at the top of the child support application. You will also need to inform staff at the local office about your specific safety concerns and ask that a Family Violence Indicator be placed on your case. Contact the child support office by phone or in person. Even if you have not checked "yes" in the Non-Disclosure of Information box on your application, you can still report family violence concerns to the OAG.

  • In order to receive a Family Violence Indicator on your case, all you need to do is inform the Office of the Attorney General – Child Support Division about your safety concerns. The OAG will ask you to complete and submit an Affidavit of non-disclosure, which is a form that documents your safety concerns. [link to .pdf copy of Affidavit]  You could also provide a copy of your protective order against the other parent (if one exists) or any police or medical reports that could help document family violence. 
  • Once the Family Violence Indicator is on your case, your contact information, such as your physical address, will not be printed on court documents unless required by the law, and if the court agrees, your address will not be made available to the other parent. Your case will also be set for a court hearing, instead of a negotiation meeting with the other parent in the local child support office when it is necessary to file a legal action with the court.

  • If you do not inform the Office of the Attorney General about family violence and there is not a Family Violence Indicator placed on your case, your contact information will be printed on public court documents and your child support order, which are available to the other parent unless the court orders this information restricted. Your case will most likely be scheduled for a negotiation meeting with the other parent
    (Child Support Review Process: CSRP).

  • You are legally required to appear in court on your court date. If you do not appear, a default judgment may be entered anyway. If you have safety concerns about appearing in court, contact the child support office to discuss these concerns.

Applying for or receiving TANF or Adult Medicaid.
  • In order to receive TANF or Adult Medicaid, you must provide information about the absent parent to your TANF case worker/Texas Works Advisor AND you will be required to cooperate with the OAG in obtaining child or medical support from the other parent of your child(ren), unless you are granted good cause from this requirement.
  • The OAG Child Support Division will contact you to obtain information in order to open a child support case. It is important to complete all forms and submit them back to the OAG within the time limit stated, or you risk losing your benefits.
  • You will have to provide the OAG with information on the absent parent. If you feel that you cannot provide information about the other parent of your child, for any reason, click here.
  • If no child support order exists, an order will be established, which may include financial and medical support, as well as custody and visitation.  Paternity will also be established at this time, if necessary.
  • Paternity must be established before a court can order child support. If your child's paternity has to be established and you would like genetic testing, notify the child support office that is handling your case as soon as possible after the child support case is opened. Click here for more information on genetic testing.
  • In a case where an order already exists for the child, the OAG assess the case to determine if child support is set at an appropriate amount and enforce any back child support that has not been paid.

If you have safety concerns about the child support process or if there is a history of family violence, it is important to contact the child support office that is handling your case to share your safety concerns.

If you have safety concerns about the child support process or
if there is a history of family violence, you have options.

  • Option 1: Victims of family violence who believe receiving child support services will put them or their children in danger may ask HHSC to grant them permission to not cooperate with the OAG.  To request this permission, you must submit a request for HHSC to find that you have “good cause” to not cooperate with the OAG for child support establishment and enforcement services. As the custodial parent, if you are granted good cause, this will stop the child support process completely.   If you later determine that you need or want child support services you will have to ask HHSC to remove the “good cause” finding, or if you are no longer receiving benefits, you will have to apply for OAG child support services.
  • Option 2: You can inform the Office of the Attorney General about your safety concerns and request that a Family Violence Indicator on your case, all you need to do is inform the Office of the Attorney General – Child Support Division about your safety concerns. The OAG will ask you to complete and submit an Affidavit of non-disclosure, which is a form that documents your safety concerns.   You could also provide a copy of your protective order against the other parent (if one exists) or any police or medical reports that could help document family violence. 
  • Once the Family Violence Indicator is on your case, your contact information, such as your physical address, will not be printed on court documents unless required by the law, and if the court agrees, your address will not be made available to the other parent.  Your case will also be set for a court hearing, instead of a negotiation meeting with the other parent in the local child support office when it is necessary to file a legal action with the court.   
  • If you do not inform the Office of the Attorney General about family violence and there will not a Family Violence Indicator placed on your case.  Your contact information will be printed on public court documents and your child support order, which are available to the other parent unless the court orders this information restricted.  Your case will most likely be scheduled for a negotiation meeting with the other parent in the child support office (Child Support Review Process: CSRP).
  • You are legally required to appear in court on your court date. If you do not appear, a default judgment may be entered anyway.  If you have safety concerns about appearing in court, contact the child support office to discuss these concerns.
  • During a CSRP or court hearing, an order will be established, which may include financial and medical support, as well as custody and visitation.  Paternity will also be established at this time, if necessary.
  • Go to the “Preparing for Court and Court Process” area of the webpage to find out more information on safety precautions that can be made available to you for your court date, and what the court process will be like. 
Applying for Child Care Services (CCS)
  • Child Care Services (CCS) requires you to demonstrate proof to the Board’s Child Care Contractor that you are opening, or have opened a case with the OAG and you are cooperating with the OAG in establishing or enforcing a child support order.  CCS also requires that you provide documentation of any informal arrangements of support that has not been issued through the court or OAG. 
  • You are not required to comply with this requirement if there is a history of family violence with the non-custodial parent, if the child is born as a result of rape or incest, or if cooperating in obtaining a child support order will harm the child or the custodial parent.  You will need to inform your eligibility worker/case manager that you exemption from  this child care services requirementneed an

If you have safety concerns about the child support process
or if there is a history of family violence, you have options.

  • Option 1: Inform your eligibility worker/case manager that you need an exemption from the child support cooperation requirement.
  • Option 2: You can inform the Office of the Attorney General about your safety concerns and request that a Family Violence Indicator be placed on your case. In order to receive a Family Violence Indicator on your case, all you need to do is inform the Office of the Attorney General – Child Support Division about your safety concerns. The OAG will ask you to complete and submit an Affidavit of non-disclosure, which is a form that documents your safety concerns.   It is not required that you fill out and return this form in order to get your case marked with the Family Violence Indicator, but it is an important form that documents your concerns for the OAG.  You could also provide a copy of your protective order against the other parent (if one exists) or any police or medical reports that could help document family violence. 
  • Once the Family Violence Indicator is on your case, your contact information, such as your physical address, will not be printed on court documents, and if the court agrees, your address will not be made available to the other parent.  Your case will also be set for a court hearing, instead of a negotiation meeting with the other parent in the local child support office.   
  • If you do not inform the Office of the Attorney General about family violence and there is not a Family Violence Indicator placed on your case, your contact information will be printed on public court documents and your child support order, which are available to the other parent.  Your case will most likely be scheduled for a negotiation meeting with the other parent in the child support office (Child Support Review Process: CSRP).
  • You are legally required to appear in court on your court date. If you do not appear, a default judgment may be entered anyway.  If you have safety concerns about appearing in court, contact the child support office to discuss these concerns.
  • During a CSRP or court hearing, a child support order will be established, including financial and medical support, as well as custody and visitation.  Paternity will also be established at this time, if necessary.
  • Go to the “Preparing for Court and Court Process” area of the webpage to find out more information on safety precautions that can be made available to you for your court date, and what the court process will be like. 
Receiving/Applying for federally subsidized housing assistance (i.e. Section 8 or public housing)

There is a requirement that you take reasonable actions to establish/enforce a child support order, such as cooperating with the OAG in obtaining a child support order.  

If you have safety concerns about the child support process or if there is a history of family violence, you have options.

  • Option 1: If cooperating with child support establishment or enforcement could put you or your children in danger, tell your landlord/Public Housing Authority.  You may need to provide a notarized, written affidavit, stating that you cannot comply with the child support requirement because of a safety concern or history of family violence. 
  • Option 2: You can inform the Office of the Attorney General about your safety concerns and request that a Family Violence Indicator be placed on your case. In order to receive a Family Violence Indicator on your case, all you need to do is inform the Office of the Attorney General – Child Support Division about your safety concerns. The OAG will ask you to complete and submit an Affidavit of non-disclosure, which is a form that documents your safety concerns.   It is not required that you fill out and return this form in order to get your case marked with the Family Violence Indicator, but it is an important form that documents your concerns for the OAG.  You could also provide a copy of your protective order against the other parent (if one exists) or any police or medical reports that could help document family violence. 
  • Once the Family Violence Indicator is on your case, your contact information, such as your physical address, will not be printed on court documents, and if the court agrees, your address will not be made available to the other parent.  Your case will also be set for a court hearing, instead of a negotiation meeting with the other parent in the local child support office.   
  • If you do not inform the Office of the Attorney General about family violence and there is not a Family Violence Indicator placed on your case, your contact information will be printed on public court documents and your child support order, which are available to the other parent.  Your case will most likely be scheduled for a negotiation meeting with the other parent in the child support office (Child Support Review Process: CSRP).
  • You are legally required to appear in court on your court date. If you do not appear, a default judgment may be entered anyway.  If you have safety concerns about appearing in court, contact the child support office to discuss these concerns.
  • During a CSRP or court hearing, a child support order will be established, including financial and medical support, as well as custody and visitation.  Paternity will also be established at this time, if necessary.
  • Go to the “Preparing for Court and Court Process” area of the webpage to find out more information on safety precautions that can be made available to you for your court date, and what the court process will be like. 
  • Note: Any child support payment you receive (with or without an order from the OAG) must be reported as income, or you will jeopardize your housing benefits. 
  • Click here to find legal aid in your area to assist you on issues with housing assistance.
Going through the child support process when the other parent opened the child support case
  • The OAG can take steps to keep you safe in the child support process whether you apply or the other parent applies for child support services.
  • Be sure to report family violence to the OAG as soon as possible by contacting the child support office that is handling your case. The child support process can move quickly, so it is important to let the OAG know about your safety concerns immediately.
  • If no child support order exists, an order will be established, which may include financial and medical support, as well as custody and visitationPaternity will also be established at this time, if necessary.
  • Paternity must be established before a court can order child support. If your child's Paternity has to be established and you would like genetic testing, notify the child support office that is handling your case as soon as possible after the child support case is opened. Click here for more information on genetic testing.
  • In a case where an order already exists for the child, the OAG assess the case to determine if child support is set at an appropriate amount and enforce any back child support that has not been paid.
  • If you have safety concerns about the child support process or if there is a history of family violence, it is important to contact the child support office that is handling your case to share your safety concerns.
  • Make sure that you have checked “yes” in the Non-Disclosure of Information box, which is at the top of the child support application.  You will also need to inform staff at the local office about your specific safety concerns and ask that a Family Violence Indicator be placed on your case.  Contact the child support office by phone or in person.  Even if you have not checked “yes” in the Non-Disclosure of Information box on your application, you can still report family violence concerns to the OAG. 
  • In order to receive a Family Violence Indicator on your case, all you need to do is inform the Office of the Attorney General – Child Support Division about your safety concerns. The OAG will ask you to complete and submit an Affidavit of non-disclosure, which is a form that documents your safety concerns.   You could also provide a copy of your protective order against the other parent (if one exists) or any police or medical reports that could help document family violence.
  • Once the Family Violence Indicator is on your case, your contact information, such as your physical address, will not be printed on court documents unless required by the law, and if the court agrees, your address will not be made available to the other parent.  Your case will also be set for a court hearing, instead of a negotiation meeting with the other parent in the local child support office when it is necessary to file a legal action with the court. 
  • If you do not inform the Office of the Attorney General about family violence and there will not a Family Violence Indicator placed on your case.  Your contact information will be printed on public court documents and your child support order, which are available to the other parent unless the court orders this information restricted.  Your case will most likely be scheduled for a negotiation meeting with the other parent in the child support office (Child Support Review Process: CSRP).
  • You are legally required to appear in court on your court date. If you do not appear, a default judgment may be entered anyway.  If you have safety concerns about appearing in court, contact the child support office to discuss these concerns.
Preparing for court and the court process
  • If your case has a Family Violence Indicator, your case will be routed to court.
  • At court you will not be required to negotiate in the same room or at the same table as the other parent.
  • Keep in mind that even though the OAG will take steps to keep parents separated at court, you may still see the other parent. If a hearing is required you may have to stand before the judge near the other parent.

Before you go to court, be aware that:

  • The Child Support Order will address paternity (if necessary), child support, medical support, custody (conservatorship) and visitation (possession and access).
    • For visitation orders, consider requesting the exchange of children at a safe exchange site or via a neutral third party, if needed.
    • The court may also order supervised visitation. Supervised visits can be held at a professional facility that has trained staff to supervise visits, or if you and the other parent can agree upon a neutral third party, that third party can supervise visits.

  • You will not be provided with an attorney for your child support hearing.  In court, there will be an Assistant Attorney General (AAG) present, but this attorney represents the best interest of the state.  The AAG does not represent you or the other parent.   
  • If you are interested in having an advocate assist you through the child support process, some family violence programs across Texas can provide you with that support. For more information about services in your area, contact the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1 (800) 799-SAFE or go to the TCFV online service directory.
  • Safety precautions can be taken for your court date.
Following or modifying a child support order
  • After a child support order is finalized:
    • Both parents must comply with the court’s order.  This means that the person ordered to pay child support must pay child support and the person with primary custody must allow any visitation that is ordered.
    • Note:  The noncustodial parent cannot be penalized for failing to appear for visitation times; but the custodial parent can be penalized for denying access to the noncustodial parent during their visitation time.   If you have concerns or questions about visitation or access, call the Access and Visitation Hotline.
  • If you are not satisfied with the outcome of your hearing, you have the following options:
    • A request for a “de novo hearing” must be filed with the district court no later than the seventh working day after the court order is signed. A de novo hearing will happen at the district court, with a different judge than the judge who heard your case initially. To file for this hearing, you must submit letters in writing within 7 days to the court, the OAG and to the other parent.
    • If you miss the deadline for filing a de novo appeal, you can file a motion for new trial with the same court that heard your case initially. This must be done within 30 days after your court order is signed.  To file for this hearing, you must submit letters in writing within 30 days to the court, the OAG and to the other parent.
    • If you feel like you were denied full access to the court, there is recourse you can take. 
  • Modifications to your child support order: 
    • Changes can be made to the child support or medical support terms of your court order if there have been substantial changes in circumstances:  You can request that the OAG review your case for modification of child support and/or medical support, but that doesn’t mean that they will necessarily file a modification.
    • Generally, substantial changes in circumstances means that the child support amount would change by either 20 percent or $100.
    • The OAG cannot modify or enforce visitation orders. If the  visitation provisions of your child support order prove to be unworkable, or circumstances surrounding the order have changed, you can file a suit to modify your order.
  • To change the visitation or custody arrangements in an order usually requires that you find an attorney.  If your case involves family violence, it is important that you find an attorney who is knowledgeable about family law and family violence.  You can contact the Texas Advocacy’s Project Family Violence Legal Line at 1(800) 374-HOPE, or www.texaslawhelp.org for information about legal aid in your area. 
  • Texaslawhelp.org has more information on changing your visitation order.   **It may help to keep a record of parental misconduct: if the other parent is violating the order, if the other parent constantly skips or is late to visitation time, or if the other parent uses the visitation time and exchange of children to harass you. 

**Note:  Obtaining a protective order from the other parent of your child does not, necessarily, modify any existing court orders that may exist between you and the other parent.  If you apply for a protective order from the other parent, inform your attorney/the court that there is an existing order.  If you have any concerns or questions about this, talk to your attorney, or contact Texas Advocacy Project’s Family Violence Legal Line at 1(800) 374-HOPE. 

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