If you are planning to leave an abusive relationship, you should be aware that violence and abuse often escalates during periods of separation and when someone files for divorce or child support. This can be true even if the relationship was not previously physically violent.
Information about the child support process in Texas is provided to help survivors of family violence with information to make informed choices about paternity establishment, child support, conservatorship (custody), access, and visitation. There are several steps you can take to protect yourself:
- Call the National Domestic Violence Hotline and talk to someone who can help you think through your options, safety plan with you, and talk about your concerns. The Hotline can be reached 24 hours a day, every day at 1 (800) 799-SAFE (7233). For the deaf and hearing impaired: 1 (800)-787-3224 (TTY).
- Create a safety plan before you leave, file for divorce, or apply for child support. A safety plan is a personalized, practical plan that includes ways to keep yourself and your children safe. You can learn more about safety planning and ways to think through the steps you need to take before you leave the relationship by calling the Hotline or by visiting their website at: http://www.thehotline.org/help/path-to-safety/
- Reevaluate your safety plan as your situation and / or safety concerns change.
- Consider calling your local family violence program or local hotline to safety plan, to find out about what services would be available for you and your children, including emergency shelter if you need it. Your local program may also be able to provide you with an advocate to possibly go with you to child support court. If you are interested in having an advocate assist you through the child support process, some family violence programs across Texas can provide you with that support. For more information about services in your area, contact the National Domestic Violence Hotline (NDVH) at 1-(800) 799-SAFE or go to the Texas Council on Family Violence service provider search page.
- If safe to do so, talk to family and friends about what is going on so that they can be prepared to help you and your family if the need arises.
- Tell the Attorney General’s Office about your safety concerns when you apply for child support. The OAG can put a Family Violence Indicator on your case in order to route your case to court to provide some safety measures and can ask for a Nondisclosure Finding from the Judge that will keep your address confidential in court records.
- If you are assigned to appear for a Child Support Review Process (CSRP), then your case IS NOT yet marked as a family violence case. If there has been a history of domestic violence or other abuse in your relationship with the other parent, you should inform the Attorney General’s Office. If you report the past violence, a family violence indicator will be placed on your case, and you will not be asked to participate in a CSRP. This means that you will go in front of the judge, instead, and he or she will decide how to set up visitation.
- For more information about applying for child support and about the process, go to:
- Prepare and safety plan in advance for the different phases of the child support process.
- after the other parent being served / notified about the child support case and leading up to the court date
- the actual court hearing
- directly following the hearing
See the Get Child Support Safely website for more information about preparing for court and the court process.
- Bring any current or prior protective orders with you, if available.