What can you do if there is a child support lien on your personal injury case?  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.  Filing a child support lien  is governed by the Texas Family Code, Sections 157.311 through 157.331.  Pursuant to the statute, a child support lien attaches to any settlement or proceeds of any claim for compensation.  This includes claims for personal injury.

In order for the lien to be effective, it must be filed in the county clerk’s office in the county of the obligor’s (the person who owes the child support) residence.   There are some other formal requirements that must be set forth within the lien, but those are too extensive to cover in this article.  Then  the lien is sent to the obligor.  Once the lien is perfected, the lien attaches to any proceeds you might receive, or be entitled to 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.

The Texas Attorney General’s office is usually quite aggressive in pursing child-support liens.  Depending in the circumstances, there might be room for negotiation.  This is where your attorney tries to negotiate the lien amount in order for the personal injury settlement to go through.  But just because the lien is negotiated does not mean that the balance is written off.  On the contrary, the lien might be negotiated for purposes of finalizing the settlement, but the balance would still be pending and owned by the obligor.

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.

41 Comments

  • Posted April 27, 2020

    Elenor Baker

    Aw, this was an incredibly nice post. Taking the time and actual effort to create a very good article… but what can I say… I hesitate a whole lot and don’t manage to get nearly anything done.

  • Posted January 16, 2019

    Nicole

    If a settlement was signed, how long will it take to get to child support?

    • Posted January 16, 2019

      Robert C. Slim

      That is hard to tell. Once the personal injury settlement is funded, payment will be made to the attorney general’s office for the child support lien. It is their office that disburses the money to you for the back child support. You would have to contact them for a status of that payment.

  • Posted November 26, 2018

    Marianne

    My ex was in an accident and child support enforcement got involved and apparently I am going to be receiving a check since he is in arrears over $40,000. He was very surprised about this. Now, he is asking for our children’s social security numbers to put on the titles of his other vehicles, claiming “if something happens to him and he dies, the children will receive his vehicles.” I am wondering if he is trying to circumvent the child support lien process, if in fact this should happen again. If one of the children’s name are listed on the title, can child support still give the proceeds to me?

    • Posted November 29, 2018

      Robert C. Slim

      I doubt he is going to circumvent anything. The child support division is quite diligent in their collection efforts. As for the vehicle titles, I’m afraid I just do not have an opinion on that. That is something you might need to take up with the Texas Department of Motor Vehicles.

  • Posted September 22, 2018

    Alejandro

    I have a pending claim for an auto accident.I owe child support for my son who is now 22 years old. His girlfriend and him just had some twins,there not doing to well financially .Long story short is there any way I can negotiate the money that I owe go to him instead of his mother.

    • Posted September 22, 2018

      Robert C. Slim

      I doubt it. Child support is supposed to be paid the the caretaker of the child. That is the person who is out the money for the child’s care. However, if the mother and attorney general’s office agree, then the money may be paid to the child. This is more a question family law than personal injury.

  • Posted September 11, 2018

    RENEE

    IF MY KIDS FATHER IS 30K BEHIND IN CHILD SUPPORT, AND THERE IS A LIEN ON A CAR ACCIDENT SETLEMENT WILL I GET ALL OF THE 30K OWED IF THE SETTLEMENT IS A LITTLE OVER THAT?

    • Posted September 12, 2018

      Robert C. Slim

      Probably not. But you will probably get a good portion of the “net recovery,” which is the amount left over after attorney’s fees and medical expenses are paid.

  • Posted July 20, 2018

    Mark

    Hello, my cousin Has a pending lawsuit with a company he used to work for. Not for any physical injuries but for defamation of character etc. I am hoping to settle soon an not have this go to trail. If we settle for a lump sum maybe $100k) will this be reported to child support? Does the it go through a process where it has to be reported to the IRS since it’s over $10K? I’m confused how this all works. I owe about $40k back pay. This is not an insurance claim so is will this not be reported?
    Thanks

    • Posted July 21, 2018

      Robert C. Slim

      As for the child support issue, I am not aware of any statutory duty that the company has to report the settlement to child support enforcement. Nevertheless, if the company has a child support withholding order on file, then it may have to abide by the terms of the order. However, if a child support lien has been properly filed with the court clerk, then it will attach to the settlement proceeds. As for the tax issues, the general rule is that “personal injury” settlements are not taxable income. But you should consult with a tax attorney with regard to your specific case.

  • Posted July 15, 2018

    mike peters

    i have personal injury claim.the other party drunk driving hit run assualt she got.my quwstion is childsupport put lein on any procceds i get.not do i let my laywer know about this so he can naggotate this matter.they have been taking out of work check now im not working might have to have knee surgry because the hit and run can u give me advise.

    • Posted July 15, 2018

      Robert C. Slim

      Are you sure your lawyer does not already know about the child support lien? They usually send a lien notice to the attorney. They also send a lien notice to the other insurance company. You might need to let your lawyer know so that, if and when it comes time to settle your injury case, the attorney doesn’t hear about the lien for the first time from the insurance company.

  • Posted February 16, 2018

    John

    If the amount that you owe child support exceeds a accident settlement is the Attorney General’s entitled to all of it

    • Posted February 16, 2018

      Robert C. Slim

      Technically speaking, the child support lien attaches to all proceeds after deductions for attorneys fees and expenses, and any other medical liens (such as a hospital lien). Regular medical bills that are not a lien (such as a therapy, doctor, or chiropractic bill) do not take priority over the child support lien. However, for the sake of settlement, the attorney general’s office will look at your net recovery after all bills are accounted for, and agree to divide that amount with you. But don’t expect much. It will probably be in the neighborhood of a 90/10% or 80/20% split in their favor.

  • Posted February 8, 2018

    Jeffrey Batson

    I don’t have a personal injury case. A woman ran out in front of me at a red light. Child support wants to take the money from the insurance company that will be fixing my truck. Can they do this legally? No one was hurt. Except my truck.

    • Posted February 9, 2018

      Robert C. Slim

      I don’t think this issue has been determined by the courts. However, the child-support lien statute is very broad and applies to all proceeds paid in a claim. Did you have a loan on the truck? If so, you might be able to claim that the truck’s lien holder has priority over the child-support lien and should be permitted to repair and preserve its collateral (the truck).

  • Posted January 30, 2018

    Lisa Gutierrez

    Please call me at 682 208 xxxx have questions about back child support and ongoing lawsuit need to get a lien asap

    • Posted January 30, 2018

      Robert C. Slim

      I do not handle cases in which a child support lien needs to be filed. That is usually handled by the Texas Attorney General – Child Support Division. I represent clients who are seeking compensation for personal injuries sustained as a result of an accident.

      • Posted July 15, 2018

        mike peters

        i have personal injury claim.the other party drunk driving hit run assualt she got.my quwstion is childsupport put lein on any procceds i get.not do i let my laywer know about this so he can naggotate this matter.they have been taking out of work check now im not working might have to have knee surgry because the hit and run can u give me advise.

  • Posted January 20, 2018

    Roy king

    If I got injured in a auto accident and I got a claim can the can the child support put a lein and take my claim

    • Posted January 20, 2018

      Robert C. Slim

      They cannot take over your claim. They can only collect the lien if you get any settlement or judgment proceeds.

  • Posted December 23, 2017

    Leonardo Longoria

    So they can only take what I owe right not more

  • Posted November 17, 2017

    Barbara

    Doe the child support come out of the medical claim or the car claim? The car has a lien on it will the money get paid towards the car or child support?

    • Posted November 18, 2017

      Robert C. Slim

      The lien statute does not distinguish between the personal injury claim and the vehicle claim. It attaches to a “claim for compensation” which would include either the injury or vehicle claim. However, a secured lien on the vehicle will have priority over the child support lien. Therefore, the lien holder will get paid first and anything left over is subject to the child support lien.

  • Posted October 6, 2017

    Jay click

    What percentage of my personal injury lawsuit settlement does child support take. Do they take all of the money that I would be getting after lawyers and doctors. Thank you

    • Posted October 6, 2017

      Robert C. Slim

      Technically speaking, the child support lien is entitled to recover anything after your attorneys fees and the amounts paid for medical liens, such as hospital liens, Medicare and Medicaid lien’s, etc. That does not include amounts paid for your regular doctor visits.

      However, for purposes of the resolving the case amicably, the child support office will permit you to pay your other providers out of the settlement. But they will not negotiate very much at all with respect to your net recovery. Typically, they will let you keep about 10%. But they do look at other factors such as the amount of the lien, as well as your payment history and past efforts to stay current with your child support. They might also consider other extenuating circumstances such as health or other personal financials issues.

  • Posted May 4, 2017

    Bo Johnson

    If Im the beneciary on a insurance policy, does a child supoort lien apply in this situation?

    • Posted May 4, 2017

      Robert C. Slim

      Section 157.317 of the Texas Family Code provides that “a child support lien attaches to all real and personal property not exempt under the Texas Constitution or other law, including…. the proceeds of an insurance policy, including the proceeds from a life insurance policy or annuity contract and the proceeds from the sale or assignment of life insurance or annuity benefits, a claim for compensation, or a settlement or award for the claim for compensation, due to or owned by the obligor….”

      So, to answer your question, I would say that it applies to any insurance proceeds.

  • Posted April 24, 2017

    Lennette

    So my ex got into an accident and insurance advised him the child support department taking a lien out. This happened in December how long does it usually take before the lien is release to his child?

    • Posted April 24, 2017

      Robert C. Slim

      I really do not know. This is more of an internal issue with the child support office. But if I were to guess, I would say between 2 to 4 weeks after the child support office receives the money. But, the child support office will not receive their money until after the settlement has been signed and the money has been paid by the insurance company. To find out for sure, you should be able to call the child support office and get a status (if you are the parent of the child).

  • Posted April 15, 2017

    Thomas

    Is there any way to keep my insurance settlement,,without it being garnished from back owed child support.

    • Posted April 16, 2017

      Robert C. Slim

      If this is a Texas case, then my answer would be that you cannot avoid a validly filed child-support lien. However, you do have one important bargaining chip. If you do not sign a release, then the insurance company will not fund your settlement and no one will get paid. Not even the child-support. So, you might be able to negotiate with the child-support office to allow some split of the settlement proceeds so that you would be willing to finalize the settlement and get it funded.

      • Posted August 22, 2018

        Donald

        At what point of the sttlement will the insurance company ask you to sign release

        • Posted August 22, 2018

          Robert C. Slim

          When you indicate your agreement and any liens are settled, the insurance company will get you to sign a release agreement and then will pay the money according to your agreement with any lien-holders.

  • Posted April 2, 2017

    Clayton Muller

    Are lost wages covered my the CCPA in Texas on the 55%-45% split, just the compensation for lost wages if the settlement agreement states the amount of wages lost from injury? Thank you

    • Posted April 3, 2017

      Robert C. Slim

      I do not quite understand your question. However, a child support lien attaches to any part of the settlement, no matter how it is characterized. A child support lien is secondary only to the attorneys fees and other medical liens.

  • Posted November 22, 2016

    Clo

    If I only ask the insurance company to pay my medical bills and medical bills only, not one penny more, can can the attorney general garnish this money?

    • Posted November 30, 2016

      Robert C. Slim

      Sorry for the late reply. But to answer your question, a child-support lien appears to attach to any proceeds of a personal injury claim. In the past, the lien only attached to claims based on “negligence.” This meant that first-party claims, such as Personal Injury Protection (PIP) claims, were not attachable. But it seems like every time I go back and read the child-support lien statute, is has been amended to be more and more broad. Reading it now suggests that PIP proceeds are now attachable. See Texas Family Code, Section 157.317.

  • Posted May 26, 2014

    clay

    I think I read in the Texas wage laws that they have to give me 45-50% of my lost wages, child support gets the other half of lost wages and all of the specials? Thanks

Leave a Reply