Clients often ask me – Can I pay Texas child support directly to my ex?
Today we are going to discuss if direct child support payments can be made, whether they should be made, and what the risks and benefits are.
The Texas Office of Attorney General’s Role
In the State of Texas, the Texas Attorney General plays a significant role in child support. The attorney general can bring lawsuits for child support payments against the non-possessory conservator. The attorney general also operates the formal record keeping for child support payments made through its Disbursement Unit.
For both the person receiving child support (possessory conservator) and the person paying child support (the non-possessor conservator), the parent paying should make the payments through the Texas attorney general’s office. Rather than making a direct payment to the parent receiving child support.
Child support payments made through the State of Texas and the Disbursement Unit yield efficient and complete record-keeping that is done by the Texas Attorney General.
When clients ask to pay Texas child support directly to their ex, it is usually because they believe it is easier and more efficient to do direct payments. But there are many more risks than benefits to doing direct child support payments to your ex.
What Happens With Direct Child Support Payments
If the if child support starts when the child is very young and the payments are not done through the AG’s office, the person paying child support must keep records of up to 18 years of payments. If the payments are not done via the State of Texas, the attorney general has no records to determine whether child support has been paid, either in full or at all. The record keeping burden falls completely on the parent paying the child support to prove that each payment has been timely made.
Avoid Double Child Support Payments
So, if you are the person paying child support, to avoid being hit with potentially double payments if you can’t prove with almost two decades of records that you made the payments, you should make payments through the Texas Attorney General’s Office.
Have a Complete Child Support Payment Record
Making child support payments through the Texas OAG also yields a complete payment record of exactly what has been paid, and what the arrearages are, if any.
Avoid Unnecessary Child Support Complications
Many times with direct payment of child support not going through the State of Texas, the person paying child support may ask the parent receiving the support for changes in child support. For example, the request may be for an agreement for an extension of time, or to skip a month of payments, or to only pay a percentage of the amount due as the result of financial hardship. This can be an uncomfortable position for the parent receiving child support and can also complicate record keeping.
Additionally, with direct payment not going through the Texas OAG’s office, the parent receiving child support might ask the parent paying for additional money or to contribute additional items like diapers or groceries in addition to child support payments.
So, across the board, making child support payments through the State of Texas is preferable for both parents, making child support more efficient, less complicated, and easier to keep records.
If you have questions about receiving or paying Texas child support, call Erik or Diana Larson at The Larson Law Office in Houston at 713.221.9088.