Negotiating child support orders

Texas has two main processes for establishing, modifying and enforcing child support orders. The first is for parents who can reach agreement out of court. The second is for cases that must go to court.

Of the two, the Child Support Review Process is more common. In this process, both parents meet with an official at a local Child Support Division office to negotiate a child support order, discussing the child's needs and the parents' incomes. Each parent can be represented by a lawyer.

The meeting usually takes no more than 90 minutes. If the parents can reach an agreement, the Child Support Division sends the order to a judge, who signs it, making it enforceable.

If the two parents can't reach an agreement during the Child Support Review Process, their case must go through the Court Process. The Child Support Division can also recommend the Court Process for cases in which one party has safety concerns, one party is a minor, or in other situations where it is appropriate.

Even in the Court Process, the court first attempts to get the parties to negotiate their way to an agreement. If they can't agree, a judge makes the final decision.

Compared to the Child Support Review Process, the Court Process takes much longer. It also takes important decisions out of the hands of the parents. Most family law attorneys recommend their clients resolve issues without going to court whenever possible.

Even when the parents are getting along fairly well, it isn't easy to negotiate a child support order that works for both of them, and most importantly, for the child. An experienced family law attorney can help.

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