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Paternity judgment crucial in accessing custody and child support

A recent announcement from the attorney general's office should serve as a warning to men accused of fathering a child in Texas. According to figures compiled by the federal government, Texas leads all 50 states when it comes to the efficiency of its Office of Child Support Enforcement in getting fathers to pay their child support. In fact, the AG's office says that Texas child support workers account for more than 72 percent of all growth in child support collections throughout the nation. The AG's office says they have collected over $30 billion in child support since 2002.

The growth in the efficiency of the collections is stunning. According to one statistic, child support collections grew by $226 million in the period between 2012 to 2013. That increase also comes at a time when most states have experienced declines since the economic downturn in 2008. The cost-efficiency breakdown means that every employee of the child support program is averaging a collection of $560,000. That means that Texas brings in $11.61 dollars for every dollar it spends on the program.

The huge collections have a secondary bonus. The federal government offers each state incentive payments based on their ability to collect child support. Texas is expected to receive a $65 million in incentive payments for last year's collections. That would be the largest bonus payout in the nation.

Men accused of parenting a child need to know that if paternity is established, they will be responsible for support of that child until he or she is at least 18 years old. State and federal laws allow for the garnishment of wages belonging to fathers with established paternity of a child. New fathers should also know that a paternity judgment also opens the door to child custody. In some cases, fathers who are making regular support payments will be allow greater custody rights and visitation times with their children.

Source: KGNS.tv, "Texas Attorney General’s Child Support Division leads the nation in child support collections" Matt McGovern, Jun. 11, 2014

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