What is a Child Support Lien?
Filing a child support lien is governed by the Texas Family Code, Sections 157.311 through 157.331. Pursuant to the statute, the lien attaches to any settlement or proceeds of any claim for compensation. This includes claims for personal injury.
The purpose of the lien is to secure payment of delinquent child support payments.
How is the Lien is Filed?
The lien originates from a previous child support order usually entered by a judge in the family courts.
Once the order is signed and becomes final, it is sent to the Texas Attorney General’s office for monitoring and enforcement by the child support division. However, if the attorney general’s office is notified that the child support payments are delinquent, then they will proceed to enforce the order.
One method of enforcement is for the attorney general’s office to file the lien in the county clerk’s office. The lien must be filed in the county of the obligor’s residence.
What to Do if You Have a Child Support Lien?
In Texas, the attorney general child support division is empowered with the authority to enforce child support obligations. One way they can do this is by filing a lien on your personal injury case.
If you have a lien in your injury case, it must be satisfied at the time your case is settled. And, rest assured, the child support enforcement division is very aggressive in enforcing these liens.
Then the lien is usually sent to the attorney handling your injury case. Thereafter, the lien attaches to any proceeds you might receive in your case. However, the lien only attaches to the net amount that is payable to the client after attorney fees, expenses, and medical bills.
Can the Lien Be Negotiated?
Depending on the circumstances, there might be room for negotiation. This is where your injury attorney tries to negotiate the lien amount for the personal injury settlement to go through.
But just because the lien is negotiated does not mean that the balance is written off. Rather, the lien might be negotiated for purposes of finalizing the settlement. However, any the balance on the delinquency is still owed.
One other thing to keep in mind is that negotiating with the other parent is not binding on the attorney general. The public policy in Texas is that child support is for the benefit of the child. Likewise, the attorney general views itself as acting on behalf of the child and not the child’s parents.