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Texas Delays Distribution Of Millions In Child Support

Parents have a responsibility to provide for their children’s needs whether parents are married or unmarried, living together or separated. Child support agreements and court orders reinforce those obligations. Texas had the highest child support collections rate in the nation last year at $3.8 billion.

While that sounds like the state’s system is streamlined, critics say there’s a glaring disconnect between support collections and distributions. The Texas Attorney General’s Office has been accused of withholding support from recipients for months at a time.

Family law attorneys in Texas sometimes refer to the state’s lag in distribution as “child support purgatory.” An Elgin woman recently received child support that was in state coffers for four months. The mother of two said she tried but failed to reach anyone at the OAG who could help her.

It wasn’t until investigative reporters from a television station contacted the state about the woman’s plight that the $3,000 in support was released. In this case, the delay in child support apparently was caused by a clerical error. Paperwork didn’t get to the right place and someone failed to update the OAG computer with a court order.

During the third quarter, the state was holding onto $55 million in undistributed child support. That represents 150 percent more money in “support purgatory” than the state had four years ago.

Clerical mistakes aren’t the only reason support to Texas parents gets delayed. Child support is not distributed when parents are involved in custody or child support disputes. The OAG also holds onto the money, when the state lacks employer or contact information for a parent.

Parents can find out the status of a child support case by logging onto the OAG website. Custodial parents must use a PIN to access information using Child Support Interactive. Parents also may contact an attorney who may be able to facilitate the release of support.

Source: KVUE, “Millions of dollars stuck in Texas ‘child support purgatory’,” Andy Pierrotti, Sep. 15, 2015

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