When it comes to issues related to child custody and paternity, many people are unaware of the role that the office of the Texas Attorney general plays. When you go through a family law case in Texas that involves minor children then it is likely you or your Co-parent would be ordered to pay child support. Those payments are typically sent through the office of the attorney general who will then transmit the money to the custodial parent. That is a typical arrangement for child support-related issues in this state. Rather than paying your parent directly, you would be responsible for making payments through the office of the attorney general.

Many parents who I have had the fortune to work with over the years have at first brought this up to me as a negative. Their thought is that it can become more complicated and convoluted to have to go through an intermediary when it comes to paying child support rather than simply paying their Co-parent directly. Why should the state of Texas get in between you and your child when it comes to the payment of money? While I can certainly understand the inclination not to have the government get between you and your family and your ability to help your children financially the reality is that it can be a blessing in disguise to be in a situation where the state of Texas plays this role.

Why it may be a good thing for the office of the attorney general to administer child support

As I was saying earlier, the office of the attorney general acts as an intermediary when it comes to the payment of child support. You are not responsible for paying child support directly to your Co-parent. You may not even get credit for these so-called informal payments of child support. Rather, only payments of child support that are made through the office of the attorney general will be credited to your account. For this reason, it would not be recommended for you to make child support payments directly to your Co-parent. Even if he or she requests to be paid directly or outright tells you to do so. There is no guarantee that you will get credit for the statements having been made. The last thing you want to do is make an informal payment of child support only to have your parent later deny that he or she ever got payment. This sort of thing does happen it is more reason why you should they called payments of child support through the office of the attorney general. 

After your family left case if you end up being the non-custodial parent you will likely the ordinance to pay child support. Commonly, a wage withholding order will be drafted by your copayments attorney wherein you will so the order to your employee. The order instructs your employer to withhold a certain amount of money from each of your paychecks. That money will go to the office of the attorney general in satisfaction with your child support obligation. If you happen to change employers, it is your responsibility to inform the court of this fact and make sure that you do not miss your child support payments. It is not a valid excuse there is a mix-up with human resources at your office or anything else rather, the responsibility of the page child support rest on your shoulders. Ultimately, it is your children’s stand to benefit most from child support. Results, you should do whatever you can to ensure that no payments are missed.

When it comes to issues regarding child support no one advanced that most typically child support orders become part and parcel with child custody orders too, for instance, suppose that your child’s mother filed for child support against you. Probably the first thing that would happen is that you would receive notification of the lawsuit hasn’t been filed along with instructions to attend a meeting at the attorney general’s office. Note that this would not be a court appearance or even a meeting with an attorney from the office of the attorney general. Rather, you would likely be asked to attend a meeting at a field office for the attorney general. Field offices are frequently found in shopping centers across Southeast Texas. A representative from the office of the attorney general would meet with you and your Co-parent at this location. If you can settle issues related to child custody and child support, you may be able to avoid having to go to court altogether.

Much of the time, the people who attend these meetings are unrepresented by counsel and are not completely sure about what their rights are as far as child support. Unless you are sure of your rights and are knowledgeable about the laws regarding child support and child custody it is recommended that you have an attorney with you in this setting. It is better to come prepared and have somebody by your side who can give you advice and perspective on the different issues that are relevant in the world of Texas child support and child custody laws. On top of that, an attorney can provide you with an important perspective regarding your specific circumstances. Rather than rely upon the information you find on a blog post you should meet with one of the experienced family law attorneys with the law office of Brian Fagan today. We can sit down with you in a free-of-charge consultation and talk with you about any subject related to your children and specifically child custody and child support issues.

What is paternity? When it comes to issues related to child custody and child support one of the most important subjects that must first get settled is that paternity. In legal sense paternity is fatherhood. More specifically it is being legally classified and determined to be the father of a child. Before you can even discuss issues related to child support or child custody you must first be legally determined as the father of a child. You may need to challenge paternity either as the rightful father to a child or as a man who is presumed to be the father to a child that is not his own. Either way, the issues associated with child support are extremely significant.

The feeling that I get from some men when it comes to this subject is that if they simply ignore any issues related to paternity they will simply go away. In other cases, I get the impression that paternity is a subject that can go away if you simply pay some money to a mother. While every situation is different, I can tell you that sweeping this issue under the rug and ignoring it is not necessarily the best path to take. In fact, in most situations, it is the absolute wrong path to take. As such, I would recommend taking into consideration the potential benefits of establishing child support after first establishing paternity either in you or in another man. 

For one, it is beneficial to you to have some clarification on this subject. You do not want to spend your entire life wondering if a child is yours or if you owe him or her responsibility for guidance and support. Even if you have no interest in becoming the father to a child understand that if you do not participate in a case and you are found to be an illegal father to a child you can end up becoming responsible for things like child support even if you never take part in a case. The failure to pay child support in Texas means that your driver’s license could be suspended or revoked. Even your ability to do things like getting a hunting or fishing license can be put in jeopardy if you fail to pay child support. It may not be exactly what you want to do at this moment but taking the time to participate in a paternity case is what is best for you. 

Next, consider that having paternity established is best for the child. That child stands to benefit from your influence and involvement in his or her life. Even if that involvement is minimal to the extent that you pay child support, he or she can benefit a great deal in material ways. Being able to afford meals, rants, clothes for school and immediate concerns like this are but a few ways how you could play an important role in the life of a child. In the long run, your child can inherit money from you, take advantage of Social Security benefits were you to pass away, and can learn more about their family history through you. If there is a family condition related to a chronic illness, then you would probably want to share that with the child rather than have him or she blindsided at a later age. 

Finally, the child’s family stands to benefit, as well. Consider that the child’s mother would be responsible for all costs and expenses associated with raising a child but for child support being assessed against you. Since you took part in the creation of the child you should also take part in the support of that child. If not, the child’s mother is put in a very difficult position as far as being the only person who can support the child. Even if you have mixed feelings about the mother remember that child support stands to benefit the child. You cannot pay child support directly to a minor and the child’s mother would be the person that stands to be able to receive child support.

It is important to note that if you are not married to the mother of your child there is no presumption in place that the child is your son or daughter until you formally establish paternity through the court. This can be done in multiple ways that we will go over as we conclude today’s blog post. However, just remember that even if it is obvious to you and your child’s mother that you are the father this is not going to be the case in a legal sense until you take steps to establish paternity.

Court-ordered paternity

You or your child’s mother can file a petition to establish paternity. As part of that new court case, you will be ordered to take a paternity test. If you find yourself looking at an order that you undergo genetic testing to determine whether or not you are the father of a child it should be assumed that you and your child’s mother do not agree on this subject. Either you don’t believe that you are the child’s father or your child’s mother does not agree. Either way, you should be aware of the circumstances involved in genetic screening and testing regarding child custody and establishing paternity.

The actual process involving the paternity test is very simple. You, your child’s mother, and the child him or herself will have their cheeks swabbed in court. Or that could occur at a local child support office or medical clinic. It is said that DNA testing is correct over 99% of the time in identifying the father of a child. Most paternity test results are available within four to six weeks after being swabbed. If you turn out to be the father to the child, the office of the attorney general pin finalizes child support importunity orders. Remember that nothing getting formally done with child support or child custody until you are legally recognized as the father of a child. Therefore, you need to be sure that the child custody orders are not your primary concern. Do not put Park before the horse. Rather, make sure that you have a plan to get the penalties established early in the life of your child so that you could proceed to other areas of the case.

Acknowledgment of paternity

The other main method for determining paternity in Texas is too complete, knowledge is that you are the father of a child. An acknowledgment of paternity only has legal tourists to the extent that both you and your child’s mother both signed the form. Until this occurs legal paternity cannot be established. You can obtain an acknowledgment of paternity form at the hospital after your child is born or through the office of the attorney general. Once completed, the form is filed with the Bureau of vital statistics in Austin and you would have named the father of your child.

Alongside an acknowledgment of paternity, there is also a document called a denial of paternity which you may need to familiarize yourself with. A denial of paternity form seeks to do the exact opposite. Namely, the denial of paternity seeks to inform the court that you believe that you are not the father of a child. This can be of help in a situation where you are married to a woman who just gave birth to a child that is not your biological son or daughter. Because the law presumes that you are the father to the child you would need to assert yourself and state that you are not that child’s father. If you are mistakenly named as the legal father of a child you could be in a position where you have to pay child support to him or her. 

A genetic test will be necessary to determine paternity. You would file a petition asking the court to terminate the parent-child relationship. You and the child would submit to genetic testing and your parental rights will be terminated if the tests come back and say that you are not the child’s legal parent. Please note that if you are found to not be the father to a child you would still be responsible for paying any child support that had been issued against you to that point. This should tell you that it is important to have this issue dealt with early on rather than to wait. The difference between immediately having genetic testing done and waiting to have the testing done can be thousands of dollars in child support.

You would need to file a petition to determine paternity and then have your parental rights terminated as to the child. Please note that the office of the attorney general will be present in a part of the case but cannot file the petition themselves. If you have any questions about this subject or how to proceed it is recommended that you work with an experienced family law attorney. The benefits of working with an experienced attorney are numerous and can make a big difference in your life in the life of the child. Rather than wondering if you know what you are doing or are prepared to adequately represent yourself in a case like this it is best to learn as much as you can now and then work with an experienced attorney to help you in the case itself.

Questions about the material contained in today’s blog post? Contact the Law Office of Bryan Fagan 

If you have any questions about the material contained in today’s blog post please do not hesitate to contact the Law Office of Bryan Fagan. Our licensed family law attorneys offer free of charge consultations six days a week in person, over the phone, and via video. These consultations are a great way for you to learn more about the world of Texas family law as well as how your family circumstances may be impacted by the filing of a divorce or child custody case.