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Public Assistance and Child Support

Q: I do not receive any form of public support for my children. I have heard that the Office of the Attorney General puts parents who receive welfare ahead of those who don’t when providing child support services. Is that true?

A: No. The Office of the Attorney General is required by law to provide child support services to all parents equally. Families who receive Temporary Assistance to Needy Families (TANF) and/or Medicaid benefits and families who apply for our services but do not receive public assistance are entitled to the same services, free of charge.
To receive TANF benefits through the Texas Department of Human Services, recipients must cooperate with the Office of the Attorney General’s efforts to identify their child(ren)’s non-custodial parent and collect child support. The State of Texas wants non-custodial parents to pay child support and provide medical insurance instead of Texas taxpayers.

When a custodial parent applies for TANF benefits, the case is automatically referred to the Office of the Attorney General and a child support file is opened.

A TANF recipient must also assign to the State the right to collect child support. The parent receives a supplemental grant of up to $50 each month that child support is collected. The rest of the support payment is used to reimburse the state and federal governments for benefits received by the family. When the family goes off TANF, all subsequent support payments are sent to the custodial parent.

Custodial or non-custodial parents of children who do not receive public assistance must contact the Office of the Attorney General to open a child support case. Parents can call the nearest child support field office listed in the phone directory or call toll free (1-800-252-8014) to request an application. Applications are also available from the child support section of the Attorney General’s Web site at www.oag.state.tx.us.

Q: Why do you always refer to “dead beat dads” and never mention “dead beat moms”?

A: The Office of the Attorney General does not use the term “dead beat dad.” Such a phrase can mistakenly paint all non-custodial parents as “dead beat” fathers who fail to pay child support and provide emotional involvement in the lives of their child(ren). Thousands of non-custodial fathers across Texas support their children financially and emotionally.

Furthermore, the gender of the non-custodial parent has no bearing on whether he or she is paying child support. It is a sad fact that, many non-custodial mothers and fathers fail to meet their financial and moral obligation to pay child support. In these cases, my office differentiates between “dead broke” parents and “dead beat” parents.
Those who cannot pay child support because they don’t have a job are “dead broke.” If they want to do the right thing and support their children, we will help them get a job so they can pay their child support.

The Office of the Attorney General has established an innovative program in conjunction with the Texas Workforce Commission.

Parents are referred by the courts to participate in job training and employment referral programs provided by the Local Workforce Development Board in many cities across the state.

Parents who refuse to take responsibility for their children, even though they are financially capable of doing so, are “dead beats” and morally bankrupt. The Attorney General’s office uses legal remedies to garnishee wages, suspend licenses and intercept tax refunds.

When all else fails, the Office of the Attorney General works with local authorities to arrest and incarcerate delinquent non-custodial parents. Parents who are arrested face up to six months in jail.

Felony offenders can receive a maximum of two years in jail.