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.