Do you pay child support? Are you in arrears on your child support payments? If you answered yes to both of these questions, a child support lien may attach to you real or personal property after it has been perfected, even if you are not in possession of that property. The Texas Family Code provides many different ways by which to perfect a child support lien. One of the methods by which to perfect a child support lien is to deliver a valid statutory child support lien notice to a third party believed to be in possession of the personal or real property that belongs to the person obligated to pay child support. As long the notice meets the statutory requirements of The Texas Family Code, no court action is required for the lien to attach.
If you are in possession of real or personal property that belongs to a person who has a child support lien against them, you should not knowingly dispose of that property after receiving proper notice that a child support lien has attached to the property. If you do, you may be held liable for the amount of the value of the property, but it cannot be greater than what is owed in child support. For notice to be proper it must include the name and address of the person to whom notice is sent, the court of continuing jurisdiction, the obligor (person ordered to pay child support), the obligee (person entitled to received child support), the amount of child support or arrearages owed, the name of the person asserting the lien, and statements that the lien attaches to all nonexempt real and personal property of the obligor located in or recorded in the state, that unpaid future support constitutes a final judgment for the amount due and owing, and that obligor is being provided with a copy of the lien notice.
If a person files a claim alleging disposal of property subject to a valid child support lien, there are three things they must prove. First, they must show that the lien notice complies with the statutory requirement of the Texas Family Code. Second, they must prove the specific elements of the Family Code to establish the person knowingly disposed of the property. Third, they must prove the value of the property disposed of. In a recent opinion, the Texas Court Appeals ruled that a person did not knowingly dispose of property subject to a child support lien when they deposited rent payments into a savings account following receipt of a lien notice, and then closed the savings account. In the Court’s opinion, it amounted to nothing more than transferring money from one account to another, and not actually getting rid of the money.
Child support liens are more complicated than any single blog post can explain. If you find yourself needing more information regarding this topic, call Guest & Gray to schedule a free consult. Whether you are a person needing to attach a lien, a person who owns property to which a lien has attached, or a third party in possession of property to which a lien has attached, we are qualified to help you.