History of LWVTX Action on Child Support & Post Divorce Payments

History of LWVTX Action on Child Support & Post Divorce Payments

History: Child Support Enforcement

1991-1993: In the 1991 and 1993 legislative sessions, League efforts contributed to passage of bills to bring Texas into compliance with federal guidelines for income withholding, to improve insurance protection for children, and to facilitate procedures for establishing paternity.

An especially important 1993 bill provides the requisite authorization for Texas to develop and implement procedures to enforce child support obligations under the provisions of the federal Child Support Recovery Act of 1992 (a.k.a. "Deadbeat Parents Act").

The federal law provides for interstate enforcement of child support orders and makes it a federal offense with a criminal penalty to willfully fail to pay past due support obligations for a child residing in another state.

1995: Passage of a measure providing for suspension of professional and recreational licenses for those delinquent in paying child support was another victory for the League and other proponents of effective means of enforcing support orders. Despite recent progress, much more remains to be accomplished under this position. Children in single-parent households still comprise the fastest category of persons living in poverty in Texas today. Many live in poverty because they are sustained by only one parent, while court orders for their support are ignored and un-enforced.

The Periodic Program Review Committee studied the Child Support Enforcement position in the 1995-97 biennium. Despite recent more stringent enforcement legislation, the committee recognized that in this area the law is far from perfect and recommended no change in this position.

History and Explanation Post-Divorce Payments

A bill enacted in the 1995 legislative session removed the stigma of notoriety from Texas as the only state in the U.S. that did not allow its courts the option of ordering post-divorce (alimony) payments. The new law gives courts discretion to order alimony payments for an ex-spouse who is unable to support herself or himself, if the couple has been married at least ten years. In each previous legislative session dating back to 1982, similar, League-supported measures were passed by the Texas Senate but died in the House.

Although the 1995 legislature enacted a law awarding post-divorce payments ("spousal maintenance" or "alimony"), the new law is very limited. Consequently, the 1995-97 Periodic Program Review Committee added the word "adequate" and urged retention of the position.