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Texas paternity and child support services

Several child-related services are provided for Houston parents through the Texas Office of the Attorney General. Applications and child support services are free or offered at a minimal cost. Parents receiving Medicaid and Temporary Assistance for Needy Families benefits qualify automatically for services; all other parents and parties must file applications through the Child Support Division.

Parents may not need all the services offered by the state, which deal primarily with the establishment of child support orders and their enforcement. Additional services include tracking down non-custodial parents, establishing paternity, child support order modifications and collection and distribution of support payments.

Enforcement actions are taken at the discretion of the state, not at a customer's request.

The state uses information provided by custodial parents to find absent parents. The non-custodial parent's home and work addresses, when known, are considered the most vital pieces of information. Other data like a Social Security number, birthdate and lender and creditor associations are also helpful in a search.

An application for services should be accompanied by copies of financial and legal documents. Divorce decrees, children's birth certificates, a signed acknowledgment of paternity, income proof for both parents and child support payment documents are among the papers required.

Some parents may take part in child support negotiations called a Child Support Review Process. CSRP sessions can be scheduled automatically or requested in advance of a support trial.

The Office of the Attorney General facilitates child support modifications. Support orders cannot be changed without a court's approval. A change in the child or parents' circumstances must be significant for a modification review. Alternately, support modifications are possible every three years, when the requested payment is at least $100 or 20 percent different than support guidelines.

Paternity establishment leads to the formalizaton of child support arrangements for unmarried parents. Attorneys can explain the benefits all parties receive when legal fatherhood is established.

Source: The Attorney General of Texas, "Frequently Asked Questions" accessed Mar. 20, 2015

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