One of the largest issues in Texas child custody and divorce law is that of child support. The State of Texas has an interest in having each resident child enjoy the financial support of both parents and child support laws are designed to facilitate the fair division of child-rearing expenses between a child’s legal parents. If one party refuses to pay the amount of allotted support, a Texas court can compel that party to sell or surrender other valuable property to the court in lieu of the child support payments. The Texas Court of Appeals recently released a ruling that denied a party a significant offset to his child support arrearages based on out-of-state property that was subject to a receivership appointment.
According to the facts discussed in the recently published opinion, the parties had been a married couple with children who divorced in 2015. As part of the divorce ruling, the father was ordered to pay monthly child support to the mother. After the father failed to pay the ordered support, the mother sought an order in a Texas family court to force the father to sell property in Maine that he had previously inherited. The Texas court appointed a receiver to manage the liquidation or transfer of the property to the Mother. A receiver refers to an individual or entity appointed by a court to take control of and manage certain aspects of the property. The appointment of a receiver is typically done to protect the interests of one or more parties involved in the property dispute.
In this case, the receiver failed to immediately find the property in Maine, and no further action was taken until the particular property was sold at a foreclosure auction based on the owner’s failure to pay property taxes. After nothing was gained from the receiver appointment, the Other approached the court to get a money judgment against the father for the amounts still owed. The father challenged the debt, arguing at trial and on appeal that he should be credited for the value of the Maine property, even though it was ultimately lost before the receiver or Mother was able to take possession of the property. The appellate court rejected the Father’s arguments, holding that any fault on the receiver’s part was not that of the Mother and that the child support debt remained valid and enforceable. The father was not granted an offset and will be required to pay his arrears in full.