Tuesday, May 5, 2015

Tuesday Tips: Don't Contact the Attorney General Without having Your Own Attorney!

In Texas, and many other states, the state Attorney General is very involved in collecting child support.  This activity is a result of a number of federal statutes that have given the AG the power to take various actions to assure that child support is being paid and is paid in the proper amount.

Although the AG technically does not represent either parent in child support matters, they are hardly neutral.  In reality, the parent receiving child support has a strong ally in the AG.  Their interests tend to coincide.
In addition, the Attorney General has certain responsibilities, ordered by federal and state laws, that they follow up on in most cases.  They often follow predetermined steps when a case is opened up.

Over the years, I have had several clients come to me after their contacted the AG on their own or responded on their own when the AG contacted them.  They came because there were problems.

Here are some potential problems when the paying party goes to the Attorney General:

1.  You probably don't know what you are doing, while the AG knows the law, their regulations and their procedures.  You may agree to something without knowing the consequences. Or, because no one was looking out for your interests,  you may not do something that you could have done to help yourself and save yourself money.
2.  When you go to the AG for help, they will probably open a file, but  they won't necessarily help YOU.  You are not their client.  They are not neutral in a helpful sense to you.
3.  You can start a chain reaction of events that leads to the opposite result of what you were seeking.  For example, your child support could be increased, you could be found in contempt and you might end up paying your ex-spouse's attorney's fees and costs.

The safest course of action is to spend a little money up front, have an attorney review your situation before you communicate with the AG. Then use your attorney if you take action regarding the child support.  Don't depend on the Attorney General to help you.  It's not their job.

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