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Thursday, September 2, 1999

CORNYN ANNOUNCES NEW CHILD SUPPORT ENFORCEMENT LAWS

Tough laws strengthen child support enforcement

AUSTIN - Texas Attorney General John Cornyn announced the implementation of laws designed to improve the performance of the Child Support Division. The measures were passed during the 76th session of the Texas Legislature and took effect September 1.

"I appreciate the legislature's attention to Child Support. Improving the performance of the Child Support Division is my number one priority, and these laws will help tremendously in that effort. Child support enforcement must be tough-deadbeats should not be allowed to fall through the cracks in the system," said Attorney General Cornyn.

One new law strengthens Child Support enforcement in eliminating the statute of limitations. Previously, Texas law did not permit the Attorney General to pursue unpaid Child Support claims after the child reached twenty-two years of age. With the new law, the statute of limitations for the enforcement of Child Support orders was eliminated, enabling the Attorney General to pursue unpaid Child Support regardless of the age of the child. This law establishes that parents are always responsible for child support and removes the incentive for deadbeats to evade the law until their child reaches twenty-two.

Another law assists the Attorney General's office in establishing paternity. Before the Court can order Child Support, legal paternity must be established for the child. Formerly, the parents were required to sign an Acknowledgment of Paternity (AOP) and then request the Attorney General to receive a legal finding of paternity from the Court. The new law requires the parents to sign the AOP which is furnished by the hospital after the birth of their child. When the AOP is filed with the Bureau of Vital Statistics, the AOP becomes a legal finding of paternity, streamlining the process and eliminating the need for the Court to establish paternity. With a little more than 100,000 children born out of wedlock in Texas each year, establishing paternity is essential in child support enforcement.

Additionally, to address the large number of unanswered phone calls to Child Support offices across the state, Attorney General Cornyn requested and received resources from the Legislature to establish regional call centers in Houston, Dallas-Fort Worth, Austin and San Antonio.

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Contact Ted Delisi, Heather Browne, or Tom Kelley at (512) 463-2050