Money in Mousetrap

In my previous post I discussed reducing legal fees by using the Texas Attorney General to help setup child support. This post will discuss some of the pitfalls in going that route.

1. The Texas Attorney General does not represent you!

Why is that a big deal you may ask? Well, for one, the only thing they are concerned with is whether the child is on public health insurance, whether you are getting child support and the other party is paying child support. There is little discussion into the circumstances surrounding your situation. There is little discussion related to visitation. If you are a father there is a strong presumption that the mother is the primary caregiver and thus going to be the one receiving child support.

2. Very little customization of Orders!

The Attorney General’s office utilizes forms to create their orders. These forms do not allow for much customization of orders. Often times parents want to work out visitation terms that differ from the Standard Possession Order (see my post regarding understanding your court ordered visitation here). The Attorney General is not able to offer much of this customization. While nearly every order will state “absent mutual agreement…” this becomes an issue when one parent decides they do not want to keep up with their “mutual agreement” and then the other parent is forced into the Standard Possession Order or pursuing a modification of the prior Order. Having an Order that lays out the terms exactly as you agreed provides you with better protection in the future should one party not want to abide by the Order.

3. Enforceability!

This is a MAJOR issue with Texas Attorney General orders. Their orders are written with the focus on child support because that is all that they are permitted to provide services for the following:

  • locate parents
  • determine paternity
  • establish child support and medical support
  • review child support orders
  • enforce child support and medical support orders
  • collect and distribute child support payments

This means that the focus of their language relates to child support and medical support. The Orders for possession and access sometimes are not precise enough to be enforced and thus require a clarification or modification before an enforcement action can occur. This means that if a party is not abiding by the Order and you attempt to get the Court involved to Order that person to comply with the Order and perhaps makeup some of the visitation, you may not be able to do so until costly clarifications and modifications of the Orders occur.

All of these are considerations you should evaluate when deciding how to proceed with setting up child support. My next post will focus on the information your attorney needs to know in order to help you setup child support if you choose to go through an attorney instead of the Texas Attorney General.

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