Texas Divorce Laws

Child Support Lawyer in Texas: How to Pick the Best Attorney

By:
Sophia Merton
Updated
July 27, 2022

Whether you’re getting a divorce with children or you are an unmarried parent, the child support process might leave you feeling completely overwhelmed. Hiring a child support lawyer in Texas can help you navigate the process, but finding the best one for your situation is essential.

While it can be tempting to try and avoid hiring a lawyer to save money on your case, a good lawyer can offer a number of valuable services and resources.

Not only can they help you with all of the paperwork, help you learn about the process, and give you advice about your case, but having a professional on your team can also help reduce your stress during the process.

Are you wondering how to pick the best child support lawyer for you? Let’s take a look at what you need to know.

What Is Child Support?

Child support is when one or both parents make payments to help support a child financially. If you are getting divorced with children in Texas, you will have to decide the terms of child support as a part of the process. Child support cases also pertain to individuals that have children but aren’t married.

two hands of parent and child dealing with child support case

The state of Texas has guidelines that determine the minimum amount of child support that should be paid.

The Texas courts are able to order either or both parents to pay child support. In most cases, though, it is the noncustodial parent that makes child support payments. Custodial parents are the parents that the children primarily spend time with and live with, while noncustodial parents are the parents that the children spend less time with.

The child support laws in Texas actually don’t get into the details of what child support is supposed to cover. The purpose of child support payments is to help cover the minimum basic needs of a child.

What Are Child Support Lawyers?

A child support lawyer is a family law attorney that specializes in child support cases. Whether you need to modify an existing child support order, collect unpaid child support, or need help getting a child support order, a child support lawyer can help you navigate the process.

child support lawyer in texas

A child support lawyer can assist you if you need to establish a child support case, modify a child support order, or deal with a number of other issues related to child support.

Are you going through a Texas divorce with children and you’re wondering if you can avoid the cost of hiring a lawyer? Learn more about getting a DIY divorce in Texas here.

What Can a Child Support Lawyer Do?

If you’re embarking on a child support case or getting divorced with children, a child support lawyer can help out with many essential steps along the way.

Help You Understand the Child Support Process

One of the ways that having a child support lawyer can be valuable is that they will help you understand the process. The legal system can be so complicated and overwhelming, and not understanding what to expect can make the entire experience much more stressful and anxiety-inducing.

A good child support lawyer will walk you through every step of the process and what you will need to do at each juncture. They will talk about the different options in your scenario and the pros and cons of each.

They will also help explain the rights that each parent is entitled to in a child support case.

Help Pursue or Modify a Child Support Order

The requirements for implementing child support orders are different in every state. If you don’t have a child support order yet in Texas, a child support attorney can help you work through the process of receiving child support.

If you already have a child support order and you want to alter it in one way or another, a child support lawyer can help you with this, too.

As with all legal issues, there’s a lot of paperwork involved in child support cases. A lawyer can assist you in filing all the proper forms in the right way by the deadline.

Help You Collect Unpaid Back Child Support

Setting up a child custody order is only half the battle– the monthly payments also have to be made. If you are entitled to receive child support payments and you need help enforcing your court order, an attorney can help you navigate the process and offer advice along the way.

Help Negotiation the Amount of Child Support in Your Case

If you’re getting divorced and are caught up in a dispute about child support, your lawyer will be able to help. When you file for divorce in Texas with children, it’s a good idea to find a divorce lawyer that is experienced in matters of child support and custody.

If you believe you are entitled to more than what is outlined in the Texas guideline in order to properly support the minimum basic needs of your children, an attorney can assist you in the effort to prove that more support is necessary.

Help to Protect Your Legal Rights

It can be tempting to try and avoid hiring a lawyer when you’re dealing with child support issues. After all, hiring attorneys can get pricey very quickly. However, having a lawyer can help ensure that your legal rights are protected throughout the process. This is incredibly valuable and worth considering when you decide whether or not to hire a lawyer.

What Is the Court Process For Child Support Cases?

There are a number of reasons that child support cases might be heard in Texas court. The website for the Texas Attorney General’s Office lists the following reasons for this type of case to be heard in court:

  • One of the involved parties is a family violence victim and contacted the Office of the Attorney General that they fear for their safety
  • One of the involved parties is a minor
  • The parties didn’t reach an agreement during their Child Support Review Process (CSRP)
  • The Office of the Attorney General determines that it would be appropriate to go through the court process in a certain case
court room in child support case in texas

Understanding the child support process can help you prepare for your day in court and give you an idea of what to expect in terms of the outcome.

You’ll be informed that your case is set for court either by being formally served with notice paperwork or through the mail. The paperwork will outline the location, date, and time that your case will be heard.

When they arrive at court, the parties will meet with either an Assistant Attorney General or a Child Support Officer in order to try and negotiate an agreed order. If the parents can come to an agreement about the order’s terms, it will be presented to the judge to receive final approval. If the judge approves of the agreed order, he or she will sign it.

In the case that the parents aren’t able to agree to the order’s terms, the judge will be the one to make the final decision. He or she will do so after an Assistant Attorney General presents the information about the case to the court.

Sometimes, it can take more than one court appearance to resolve all of the issues in a child support case. If you’ve been scheduled for a court date that you can’t make, you’ll want to contact the Texas Attorney General’s Office.

What Is the Child Support Review Process?

This is an in-office administrative process on the part of the Texas Attorney General’s Office. The purpose of this process is to:

  • Establish, change, or enforce child support orders
  • Establish, change, or enforce medical and dental support orders
  • Determine paternity

This review process usually takes place at a local office of the Child Support Division. This meeting usually involves both parents as well as a Child Support Officer.

These meetings usually run for about sixty to ninety minutes. How long the review process takes will depend on what needs to be addressed and a variety of other factors.

The order will be sent to the judge if both parents come to an agreement on the terms, who will review the order and sign it if he or she approves.

If both involved parents, however, can’t agree on the terms of the child support order, a court hearing will be scheduled for the case.

Child Support Review Processes are generally not included in cases where one party is a minor or the Office of the Attorney General is aware of family violence.

Individuals involved in child support cases that are concerned about their or the child’s safety should contact the Attorney General’s Office.

How to Pick the Best Child Support Lawyer in Texas

Now that you have a sense of the child support process and what a child support lawyer can do for you, let’s take a look at some of the steps you’ll want to take to pick the best lawyer for your situation.

texas child support lawyer at his desk

Choosing the right child support lawyer is a matter of balancing a number of different factors.

Learn About Child Support and Custody

Understanding the family laws in Texas surrounding child support and custody will be a big help when it to picking a lawyer. It will also help you feel more confident as the process goes on because you will have a better sense of what to expect.

The internet can be an incredible resource for learning about child support laws in Texas, but it’s important to pay attention to where you are receiving the information from and whether it is a reputable source. You’ll also want to pay attention to which state the information is in regard to because child support laws differ depending on what state you’re in.

When you have a better sense of the child support process, you’ll be able to start thinking about what types of issues you’ll want to focus on with your lawyer. This can inform the questions that you ask when you interview lawyers down the road.

Factors to Consider When Looking For a Child Support Attorney

There are a number of different factors you’ll want to consider when you begin searching for a child support lawyer in Texas.

Credentials

When you’re researching local lawyers for your child support case, you’ll want to find out about any prospective attorney’s credentials. Look for answers to the following:

  • How many years has the lawyer been in practice?
  • Has the lawyer had experience with similar child support cases?
  • How familiar is the lawyer with the Texas child support guidelines?

Comfort Level

An important part of your decision when you’re picking a child support lawyer is how comfortable you feel working with them. Ask yourself the following questions when you are making your final choice for a lawyer:

  • Does the lawyer actually seem interested in your child support issues?
  • Do you feel comfortable sharing personal information with this lawyer?

Location

You’ll also want to think about the location of your child support lawyer. On the one hand, you want their office to be relatively convenient for you to visit. On the other hand, you want to make sure that the lawyer you hire is very familiar with the specific courthouse you’ll be dealing with in your child support or divorce case.

Cost

Of course, how much a lawyer will charge you is also an essential piece of information. You don’t want to hire a lawyer just because they’re the cheapest option, but you also don’t want to pay anymore than you have to for a great lawyer.

You’ll want to find out how the fees are structured by the different attorneys you’re considering. Some might charge a flat fee while others might charge by the hour.

A lawyer that is able to help estimate the cost of your case is preferable to one that won’t be willing to put a ballpark figure on their services. A good child support lawyer will help you understand how much cases like yours usually cost and what circumstances could make the bill run higher than expected.

Are you wondering how to keep the costs down when you’re getting divorced with children in the Lone Star State? This guide looks at the cheapest divorce options in Texas.

Look For Law Firms That Specialize in Family Law

Some law firms are general practice firms, while others specifically focus on Texas family law. This can be a good starting point because you can expect that they will have experience with your type of case.

You can take a look at the lawyers that work at local family law firms and find individuals that specialize in child support and child custody. It can be good to find a lawyer that advertises their specialties are two closely related topics, which indicates that they are focused on their practice rather than being more of a jack of all trades.

Because the law is so complex in the United States, it’s increasingly common for lawyers to specialize in just a handful of highly related areas of the law. Generalists will typically be less experienced in your particular type of case, which increases the likelihood that your needs won’t be met in your case.

Make a List of Potential Lawyers to Contact

If you know any lawyers you know personally, consider contacting them to find out what they specialize in. If they aren’t family law attorneys or they don’t typically deal with issues of child support, ask them if they have any recommendations.

You can also ask your friends and family for advice if you know that they have had to go through the child support process before.

Even if you get a lot of recommendations through lawyers in your network or from your personal circle, it’s a good idea to broaden your search so you can know the full scope of options on the table.

You can use the internet to find local family law lawyers. Check out their websites, reviews, and any other information you can find about them.

When you’re proceeding with the following steps in order to decide which lawyer to hire, remember to incorporate the factors to consider listed above.

Request Information Packages From Firms

When you have chosen firms you’d like to work with or lawyers you’re interested in interviewing, you can request an information package. This will let you learn about each law firm from the comfort of your own home, rather than ending up in a situation where you feel pressured to make a choice in the lawyer's office.

These days, many attorneys will offer free initial consultations. In some cases, though, they will offer reduced rates or flat fees for an initial consultation.

You don’t want to delay the process of choosing a child support lawyer indefinitely, of course. But you also don’t want to rush the decision. Having information packets from various law firms can give you some space to think about what you’re looking for in a lawyer.

Interview at Least Two or Three Lawyers

When you’ve narrowed your search down to three to five child support lawyers you think might be best able to help you in your child support case, make an appointment with each of them.

An in-person interview is really important when you’re selecting a lawyer. It is really impossible to get a full sense of how comfortable you’ll feel working with someone unless you are sitting in the same room.

You might even find that some lawyers are willing to meet you for an interview at your home if you aren’t able to make it to their office.

In one of the following sections, we’ll outline some of the questions you might want to ask a potential lawyer. In general, though, you’ll want to learn about how they handle child support cases and find out about their experience with cases like yours.

The lawyer you end up choosing should leave you feeling confident that your case won’t bring up anything they’ve never seen before.

It can be tempting to cancel your other lawyer appointments after meeting with someone who seems like they would do a fine job. It’s difficult enough to describe your child support issues with a stranger once, and you might not want to go through that again.

It’s really best, though, to meet with at least two or three lawyers before you make your selection. Different lawyers are going to have different ways of dealing with child support cases, and you might find that two different attorneys have very different perspectives on how to deal with your case.

The more lawyers you talk to, the more you learn about what your options are.

Bring Documentation When You Meet With a Lawyer

When you’re meeting with a lawyer to discuss your child support case, bring any documentation that will help you describe your situation. This might include:

  • Arrest records
  • Medical records
  • Child support orders
  • Child custody orders
  • Acknowledgment of paternity
  • Birth certificates
  • Any other information you think might be relevant

It’s also a good idea to write out your general situation beforehand. It’s natural to get emotional when describing your child support issue in such objective details, and you might find that you aren’t thinking as clearly when you’re sitting in front of the attorney. Having an outline of the main points you want to mention can ensure that the attorney gets all the information they need to help you understand your options.

Prepare a List of Questions

The entire child support process can be overwhelming, and you might not even be sure what to ask a potential child support lawyer when you meet with them.

Of course, the questions you ask will be particular to your case. In general, though, you’ll want to ask the following questions:

  • How many years of experience do you have?
  • How familiar are you with handling my specific type of case?
  • What is the process going to look like for my case?
  • What is the biggest challenge presented by my case?
  • Who, if not you, will I be working with in your office?
  • How will you communicate with me about my case?
  • Would you be the attorney working with me or would my case be given to another attorney?
  • Can I take a copy of the written fee agreement with me when I leave?
  • Will I automatically receive copies of all of the documents involved in my case?
  • How much will it cost for you to represent me?
  • What is your typical turnaround time for calling people back?

Before you meet with family law attorneys, think about your specific case and any additional questions you might have about the process.

Follow Your Gut

It’s important that your lawyer is someone you feel comfortable working with and that you trust. Quite a bit of research is required to find the right lawyer for your circumstance, but don’t solely focus on credentials. Even if someone has all the experience in the world, you shouldn’t override a gut feeling if you simply don’t trust them or don’t feel comfortable with them.

Your child support lawyer is going to be guiding you through every step of the child support process. You’ll be discussing personal details about your life with them as a part of the case. It’s important that they are someone you believe is going to act in your best interest and that you feel you work well with.

Am I Entitled to an Attorney in a Texas Family Law Case?

You are usually not entitled to have an attorney represent you in a case of family law.

There are, however, two circumstances where Texas law does enforce a low-income individual to legal representation in a family law case. These are:

  • Termination of parental rights cases that have been filed by the state: In these cases, parents (including alleged fathers) have a right to an attorney for cases and appeals
  • Civil contempt in enforcement proceedings: If the court decides that the defendant could go to jail resulting from a child support enforcement or visitation enforcement, the defendant has a right to an attorney under state law. The court only appoints a lawyer for the contempt portion of the case, however, not for the whole enforcement proceeding.

Are you getting divorced with children in Texas and you’re wondering what to expect when the bill arrives? Check out this guide to the cost of divorce in Texas.

What Types of Family Law Cases Don’t Entitle Me to a Lawyer?

A very low-income individual is not entitled to legal representation in the following kinds of family law cases:

  • Paternity
  • Private custody
  • Divorce
  • Adoption
  • Private termination of parental rights
  • Voluntary relinquishment of parental rights

Courts can appoint lawyers for very low-income people in private terminations of parental rights and private custody disputes. However, they are not required to do so.

It can be very complicated to ask the court to appoint a lawyer for you in these cases.

Are You Looking For More Texas Family Law Resources?

The more you learn about the legal system in Texas, the more prepared you’ll feel when it’s time to make decisions in your own child support case. While reading about family law usually isn’t anyone’s idea of a good time, knowledge truly is power when it comes to understanding your rights and responsibilities under the law.

Maybe your child support case is very straight forward and hiring a lawyer would be a waste of money. Maybe you’re already working with a divorce lawyer that has a ton of experience dealing with child support issues.

However, if you’re dealing with a contentious child support case and you aren’t already working with a lawyer, hiring a child support lawyer in Texas might be well worth the cost.

If you’re looking for more information about family law in Texas, you’ve come to the right place. Be sure to check out all of our articles about divorce, marriage, child custody, and support in Texas.

Written By:
Sophia Merton
Sophia received her BA from Vassar College. She is a researcher and writer that aims to help make the complexities of the legal system understandable to the layperson. Believing that people can be empowered by understanding their rights and responsibilities under the law, Sophia aims to offer accurate and well-researched information in straightforward and easy-to-digest legal articles.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

Get Our Divorce Newsletter
Subscribe to receive information, free guides and tutorials