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Enforcing Child Support

Q: Can I lose my driver’s license or my hunting license if I don’t pay child support?

A: Yes. Non-custodial parents who hold a State of Texas license, owe more than three months past due child support, and are not in compliance with an existing court-ordered or voluntary repayment schedule, may face license suspension.

Most adults have a driver’s license. Many have professional licenses such as medical, dental, law and commercial vehicle. Others have recreational permits such as hunting and fishing licenses.

The Office of the Attorney General’s Child Support Division matches its caseload with computer tapes from 60 different licensing agencies.

The system checks every six months for non-custodial parents who hold eligible licenses and meet the criteria for license suspension. When a match occurs, the Office of the Attorney General provides the license holder with a warning and an opportunity to resolve the outstanding delinquency.
If the non-custodial parent fails to respond, the Child Support Division will confirm the parent’s location and other information necessary to suspend the license and refer the case for administrative or judicial prosecution. In State Fiscal Year 2001 (ending August 31), we filed 4,753 cases for administrative or judicial license suspension.

Q: Can any other state agency or private company handle child support enforcement cases, and if so, would I receive money sooner?

A: In Texas, county-operated domestic relations or child support offices, private attorneys, and private collection agencies also provide some child support enforcement services. Private agencies charge for their services.

If you use the services of a private child support collection agency, be sure that you fully understand any contract that you sign. The majority of the Attorney General’s incoming cases do not have established paternity or child support orders. These cases take longer to process than cases with established paternity and child support orders. Private child support collection agencies and county domestic relations offices generally handle only cases with established paternity and existing court child support orders.

The Office of the Attorney General is required to provide child support services to all families who apply for our services and to all families receiving Temporary Assistance to Needy Families (TANF).

Moreover, the Office of the Attorney General provides the full range of child support services free of charge. As a result, the Attorney General’s caseload is very large much larger than that of any private collection agency.

A private agency may be able to process some cases more quickly. This factor should be balanced against the cost of hiring a private agency.

The 77th Texas Legislature passed a law regulating the activities of private child support enforcement agencies. Effective January 1, 2002, agencies are required to register with the Texas Department of Banking to operate in Texas. The Department of Banking has the authority to revoke the registration of an agency that does not comply with the law.

Q: How can the amount of child support be changed?

A: Only the Court can modify a child support order, which establishes the amount of child support to be paid. It cannot be done by agreement of the parties. Grounds for a modification include a material and substantial change in the circumstances of a child or another person affected by the order, or the passage of three years since the last child support order and a difference in the existing monthly payment by either 20 percent or $100 from the amount that would be ordered according to an updated calculation using the child support guidelines.

A parent subject to a child support order can request a review of the ordered child support amounts every three years by contacting the Office of the Attorney General.

To request a modification, or for further information on Child Support Services offered by the Office of the Attorney General, call (800)252-8014. Information is also available on our website at www.oag.state.tx.us.