Office of House Bill AnalysisH.B. 1365
By: Goodman
Juvenile Justice & Family Issues


Prior to the 77th Legislature, state law provided for the establishment and
enforcement of child support obligations in suits affecting the
parent-child relationship.  Among the provisions were procedures for
ordering medical support and enforcing support obligations through
mechanisms such as income withholding and liens.  House Bill 1365 provides
technical corrections and textual emendations to various provisions to
clarify intent and to enhance establishment and enforcement provisions.
The bill also provides for the continuation of the duty of support beyond
the death of an obligee, medical support for a child for whom child support
is ordered, child support lien and levy processes, and administrative
processes used by the office of the attorney general's child support


It is the opinion of the Office of House Bill Analysis that rulemaking
authority is expressly delegated to the office of the attorney general in
SECTION 52 (Section 231.015, Family Code) and to the Finance Commission of
Texas in SECTION 73 (Section 396.051, Finance Code) of this bill. 


House Bill 1365 amends the Family Code to set forth provisions relating to
the establishment, modification, and enforcement of child support.  The
bill provides that a child support obligation does not terminate on the
death of the obligee but continues as an obligation to the child named in
the support order.  The bill requires that after the death of the obligee,
a child support payment is to be paid proportionately for the benefit of
each surviving child and not to the estate of the obligor.  The bill
provides that the payment of child support is free of any creditor's claim
against the deceased obligee's estate.  The bill requires that if the
obligor does not assume actual care, control, and possession of the child
on the death of an obligee, current child support owed by the obligor is to
be paid and a copy of the order provided to certain persons (Sec. 154.013).

The bill provides that a child support lien arises by operation of law for
all amounts of child support due and owing, including any accrued interest,
and provides additional requirements of the content and methods of filing
all child support lien notices (Secs. 157.312, 157.313, and 157.314). The
bill provides that a lien is perfected if a lien is attached to a financial
institution account in which the obligor has sole or part ownership
interest and the support lien notice is delivered to the financial
institution holding the account and releases the institution from liability
for compliance with a levy notice (Secs. 157.316 and 157.329).  The bill
requires the county clerk, on receipt of a child support lien notice, to
immediately record the notice in the county judgment records (Sec.
157.315).  The bill provides that a lien attaches to all real and personal
property, including an individual retirement account, an insurance
settlement, and the proceeds of a life insurance policy (Sec. 157.317).  

The bill provides that a lien is effective until all current support and
child support arrearages, including interest and any costs and reasonable
attorney's fees have been paid or the lien is otherwise released (Sec.
157.318).  The bill provides for when the release of the child support lien
is effective, and which court an action to foreclose a child support lien,
to dispute arrearages, or to resolve issues of ownership interest is
authorized to be brought (Secs. 157.322 and 157.323). 

The bill authorizes the court, in an enforcement action and with the
agreement of the office of the attorney general (OAG), to hold in abeyance
the enforcement of any arrearages, including interest assigned to OAG, if,
for the period of the court's order of abeyance of enforcement, the obligor
timely and fully pays the obligor's current child support under a court or
administrative order and is involved in the life of the child for whom
support is ordered through the exercise of the obligor's right of
possession of or access to the child.  If the court orders an abeyance of
enforcement of arrearages, the court may require the obligor to obtain
counseling relating to matters causing the obligor to fail to obey the
child support order.  If the court finds in a subsequent hearing that the
obligor has not met the conditions set by the court's order, the court is
required to terminate the abeyance of enforcement of the arrearages.  The
bill authorizes the court, on the expiration of the child support order and
with the agreement of the OAG, to reduce the amount of the arrearages
assigned to OAG if the court finds that the obligor has complied with the
conditions set by the court (Sec. 157.262).  The bill adds the amount of
any ordered attorney's fees or costs to the amount of child support to be
collected (Sec. 157.268). 

The bill provides that a notice of levy sent to a financial institution
must identify the amount of child support arrearages owing at the time the
amount of arrearages was determined and direct the financial institution to
pay to the claimant, not earlier than the 15th day or later than the 21st
day after the date of the delivery of the notice, an amount from the assets
of the obligor in the amount  not to exceed the child support arrearages
identified in the notice.  The bill prohibits a financial institution that
receives a notice of levy from closing an account, withdrawing funds, or
paying funds to the obligor. The bill requires the financial institution
that receives a notice of levy to notify any other person having an
ownership interest  in the account, that the account has been levied on in
an amount not to exceed the amount of the child support arrearages (Sec.
157.327).  The bill authorizes the claimant to proceed to levy on other
property of the obligor until the total amount of child support due is paid
if the property or right to property does not produce sufficient funds to
satisfy the amount of child support arrearages (Sec. 157.331). The bill
requires a claimant to deliver a notice of levy to any financial
institution possessing or controlling assets or funds of the obligor and
provides requirements for notice of levy to the obligor.  The bill requires
that the notice of the levy delivered to the obligor must inform the
obligor that the claimant will not proceed with levy, if later than the
10th day after the date of receipt of the notice, the obligor pays the
arrearages in full amount.  The bill also authorizes the obligor to contest
the levy by filing suit not later than the 10th day after the date of
receipt of the notice.  The bill also provides that if the claimant is OAG,
the obligor receiving a notice of levy may request review by the agency not
later than the 10th day after the date of receipt of the notice to resolve
any issue in dispute regarding the existence or amount of the arrearages.
The bill provides that if the review fails to resolve any issue in dispute,
the obligor is authorized to file suit for a hearing not later than the
fifth day after the date of the conclusion of the agency review. The bill
further provides that if the obligor fails to timely file suit, OAG is
authorized to request the financial institution to release and remit the
funds subject to levy  (Sec. 157.328). 

The bill authorizes the court to render an order requiring the obligor to
make periodic payments or that income be withheld from the disposable
earnings of the obligor in an amount sufficient to discharge the judgment
in not more than two years (Sec. 157.264). The bill authorizes the court to
render an order that income be withheld from the disposable earnings of the
obligor to be applied towards the satisfaction of any ordered attorney's
fees and costs resulting from an action to enforce child support.  An order
is subordinate to an order or writ of withholding for child support and is
subject to the maximum amount of 50 percent of the obligor's disposable
earnings.  The bill requires the court to order that amounts withheld for
fees and costs be remitted directly to the person entitled to the ordered
attorney's fees or costs or be paid through a local registry for
disbursement to that person (Sec. 158.0051). The bill removes provisions
relating to the contents of an order or a writ of withholding (Sec.

Only the referring court is authorized to render an order for postjudgment
relief, including an order for a new trial (Sec. 201.104).  The bill
requires the obligor's employer to send a copy of the income withholding
order or writ to the insurance carrier with whom the claim has been filed
in order to continue the ordered withholding of income (Sec. 158.206).  The
bill authorizes an administrative writ of withholding to contain  only
information that is necessary for the employer to withhold income for child
support and medical support and is required to specify the place where the
withheld income is to be paid (Sec. 158.504). On issuance of administrative
writ of withholding,  the bill requires OAG, to send notice of the amount
of arrearages, including accrued interest, to the obligor (Sec. 158.505).   

The bill authorizes a domestic relations office to provide, directly or
through a contract, visitation services, including supervision of
court-ordered visitation, visitation exchange, or other similar services
and to employ community supervision officers or court monitors (Sec.
203.004).  The bill authorizes the administering entity to authorize a
domestic relations office to assess and collect a monthly service fee not
to exceed $3 to be paid annually in advance by a managing conservator and
possessory conservator for whom the domestic relations office provides
services (Sec. 203.005). 

The bill requires a government agency, private company, institution, or
other entity to provide the information requested directly to the attorney
general without the requirement of payment of a fee for the information
(Sec. 231.302).  The bill requires the clerk of the court to file suit in a
suit to determine parentage (Sec. 102.013). 

The bill authorizes the court to order a parent subject to a previous child
support order to pay retroactive child support if the previous child
support order terminated as a result of the marriage or remarriage of the
child's parents, the child's parents separated after the marriage or
remarriage, and a new child support order is sought after the date of the
separation.  The bill authorizes the court to order retroactive child
support back to the date of the separation of the child's parents (Sec.
154.009).  The  bill requires the court to render an order with specific
requirements, directing payment of current child support amounts,
arrearages, and support paid but not dispersed.  The bill requires the
order to be distributed to certain persons or agencies (Sec. 154.013).  The
bill provides that any support paid to the obligee in excess of the amount
ordered is required to be returned to the obligor, if the obligor is not in
arrears and the obligor's child support obligation has terminated (Sec.

It is presumed that a court order limiting the amount of retroactive child
support to an amount that does not exceed the total amount of support that
would have been due for the four years preceding the date  the petition
seeking support was filed is reasonable and in the best interest of the
child.  The bill provides that an order limiting the amount of retroactive
support does not constitute a variance from the guidelines requiring the
court to make specific findings (Sec. 154.131). 

The bill authorizes the presiding judge to appoint a visiting child support
master under certain conditions specified by the bill (Sec. 201.113). 

The bill requires OAG, by rule and in consultation with the Texas
Department of Insurance and representatives of the insurance industry in
this state, to establish a pilot program to improve the use of child
support liens.  The pilot program is required to develop processes under
which insurance companies may voluntarily cooperate with OAG in identifying
obligors who are subject to liens for child support arrearages to intercept
certain liability insurance settlements or awards for claims in
satisfaction of the arrearage amounts.  The bill provides that an insurance
company that provides information or otherwise responds to a notice of
child support lien or levy or that acts in good faith to comply with
procedures established in the pilot program is not liable for those acts
under any law to any person (Sec. 231.015). 

The bill provides that if both parties support and sign the child support
order and paternity is established, then the attorney general is authorized
to present the order and waiver to the court for confirmation without
conducting a negotiation conference (Secs. 233.009 and 233.0095).  The bill
authorizes the court to sign the order before filing the order, and
requires the signed order to be immediately filed (Sec. 233.024).  

The bill provides that a certified child support payment record produced by
the state disbursement unit is admissible as evidence of the truth of the
information contained in the record and does not require further
authentication or verification (Sec. 234.001).  The bill authorizes the
attorney general to enter into contracts or cooperative agreements to
process through the state disbursement unit child support collections (Sec.
234.004).  The bill authorizes, rather than requires, the attorney general
in cooperation with a work group to adopt rules in compliance with federal
law for the operation of the state case registry and the state disbursement
unit (Sec. 234.006). 

The bill authorizes a court of this state to modify an order of child
support rendered by an appropriate tribunal of another state after
registration of the order (Sec. 156.408).  The bill provides that a notice
of a motion for modification of an order may be served by mailing a copy of
the citation to the respondent with a copy of the motion and provides
additional notice requirements (Sec. 156.409).    The bill authorizes the
attorney general to enforce a support order rendered by a tribunal of
another state (Sec. 158.501). 

The bill amends the Finance Code to provide that a private child support
enforcement agency (agency) must register with the Texas Department of
Banking (TDB) to engage in child support enforcement in this state. The
bill provides that TDB is authorized to waive any registration prerequisite
for a foreign agency that holds a valid registration or other authorization
from another state whose requirements are substantially equivalent and with
which this state has a reciprocity agreement. The bill authorizes TDB to
enter into an agreement with another state to permit registration by
reciprocity.  An applicant for registration as an agency must file with TDB
an application for a certificate of registration (application), accompanied
by a surety bond in the amount of $50,000 or a deposit of money in an
amount, not to exceed $50,000, to be determined by TDB. The bill requires
TDB to require an applicant to provide a certified financial statement
demonstrating financial solvency or any other information to establish that
the requirements for registration or renewal of registration have been
fulfilled. The bill sets forth provisions regarding the application
process. The bill provides that an agency's certificate of registration
expires on the third anniversary of the date of issuance (Secs.

The bill authorizes a foreign agency that is exempt from registration to
file an application with TDB to operate under that authorization by filing
certain information and a surety bond or deposit.  The bill provides that a
foreign agency may be exempt from filing a surety bond or deposit if proof
of an adequate bond or similar instrument maintained in the state in which
that agency has its principal office is offered to the TDB's satisfaction.
The bill authorizes TDB to charge a single administrative fee in a
reasonable amount that is sufficient to cover the costs of TDB in
processing and acting on the application.  In addition, a copy of the
license or other authorization issued by the state in which that agency is
authorized to operate must be filed with TDB.  The bill prohibits a person
who holds a certificate to operate under other authorization from engaging
in business in this state as an agency if another state has revoked or
withdrawn the person's authority to operate as an agency, unless TDB grants
the foreign agency a registration (Secs. 396.151396.154).  

The bill prohibits an agency that is not registered or otherwise authorized
from bringing an action to enforce a child support obligation in this
state. The bill requires a registered agency to maintain and update monthly
all records of child support collections made on behalf of, and disbursed
to, a client who is an obligee. The bill requires a registered agency and a
foreign agency authorized to engage in business to execute a written
contract for the enforcement of child support for each client of the agency
that is residing in this state (Secs. 396.201-396.203).  

The bill sets forth provisions prohibiting a registered agency from using
practices which may be perceived as threatening, coercive, fraudulent,
deceptive, or misleading. The bill also sets forth administrative
procedures for the revocation, denial, or suspension of a registration and
authorizes a person to pursue civil remedies for violations of these
provisions (Secs. 396.251-396.252, 396.301-396.304, and 396.351396.353).
The bill requires the Finance Commission of Texas to adopt rules as
necessary for the administration of these provisions. 

 TDB is required to charge each applicant a nonrefundable filing fee of
$500 for each certificate of registration or renewal of a certificate.  TDB
is authorized to charge each registered agency an annual fee not to exceed
$500 to cover the cost of enforcing these provisions (Secs.

The bill amends the Government Code to entitle OAG to obtain from the
Department of Public Safety,  Federal Bureau of Investigation
identification division, or another law enforcement agency criminal history
record information maintained by the department or agency that relates to a
person who proposes to enter into a contract with or that has a contract
with OAG to supply goods or services to OAG.  The authorization to obtain
criminal history record information about a person includes information
relating to an employee or subcontractor of the person or an employee of
the person's subcontractor (Sec. 411.127). 


September 1, 2001.  The provisions requiring a child support enforcement
agency to be registered apply only on or after January 1, 2002.