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Child support


A lien is a claim that effectively places a hold or freeze on property (bank accounts, real estate, a car or truck, insurance proceeds) to ensure payment of a debt by the owner of the property. In the child support context, a parent who is owed child support—or the state’s child support services in the Office of Attorney General—may place a child support lien on property owned by the parent who owes child support.

In most states this child support lien arises automatically and without the need for a court order. Banks, insurance companies, and real estate title companies are given notice of a child support lien (1) by the attorney for the parent who is owed child support; (2) by the state’s child support services; or (3) by checking a lien registry or child support lien network for liens. In some circumstances the parent who is owed child support, or the state’s child support services may force the sale of property to satisfy a child support lien.

In Texas, a child support lien can be used as a legal tool to secure payment of overdue child support. This lien can be placed on various types of property owned by the noncustodial parent who owes child support, such as bank accounts, real estate, vehicles, and insurance proceeds. The lien ensures that the debt must be paid before the property can be sold or transferred. In Texas, the lien arises by operation of law and does not necessarily require a court order. The Texas Family Code provides the legal framework for the establishment and enforcement of child support liens. The Office of the Attorney General (OAG) in Texas plays a key role in administering child support services, including the issuance of liens. The OAG, or an attorney representing the custodial parent, can notify financial institutions and other entities of the lien. Additionally, Texas participates in the Child Support Lien Network (CSLN), which allows for the cross-state enforcement of child support liens. In certain situations, the property subject to a lien can be forced into sale to satisfy the child support debt.

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