It's easy for parents who are raising children on their own in Texas to feel isolated, especially when they're struggling financially due to a lack of child support from their former partners. Divorced parents may have a court order that requires these payments, but the non-custodial parent isn't following through. Or a married couple may have unofficially separated, and the parent who moved out hasn't filed for divorce but is living separately without offering any monetary assistance for the children.
Parents who find themselves in one of these situations have options for obtaining child support, but they do require some proactive steps. The Texas Office of the Attorney General has several different methods of helping parents collect this support, as outlined on its website. There parents can find specific instructions on how to handle specific problems, whether it's enforcing an existing child support order, locating an absent parent, or establishing paternity. They can also learn how the state processes child support payments.
Parents who have never received child support may not realize that payments don't go directly from one parent to the other, but through the Texas State Disbursement Unit, as required by state law. This means that if the state is owed any money, say from public assistance the family has received, the SDU may keep some of the child support payment it receives before giving the remainder to the parent. This applies both to regular child support payments or any funds intercepted by the state to cover back payments. For example, if a noncustodial parent is more than $150 behind on payments, the state may intercept the parent's income tax refund, subtract the amount the state has paid out in public assistance to the family and send the rest to the custodial parent. And if the noncustodial parent lives in another state, there's a chance that state will charge fees for processing payments, lessening the amount the custodial parent receives.
The attorney general's office does point out that enforcement of child support or related services isn't automatic; it requires at least one parent to be proactive and to communicate regularly with state officials. You can also enlist the help of a family law attorney to help you understand your child support rights or obligations. It may seem complicated at times, but most parents find that the effort is worth the support in the end.
Source: Alpine Avalanche, "We can help you collect your child support," Feb. 7, 2013