The SAFE program is a supervised visitation program in the Houston area that provides a neutral setting for parents to visit with their children while being monitored by SAFE Program staff members. The SAFE Program is usually court-ordered in situations where there have been allegations of physical or emotional abuse, drug use or other problems. The goal of SAFE is to provide a stress-free environment for children to visit with a parent. A benefit of SAFE is that there is no interaction between the parents and the entire time a parent spends with their child is devoted to fun and positive interaction.
If you are the party awarded child support in Texas, you will understandably want to know when and how you will begin receiving child support payments. This is a multistep process as outlined below.
First, some basic information and terminology. The party awarded child support is known as the Obligee. The party ordered to pay child support is known as the Obligor. All child support payments must be paid to the Child Support Disbursement Unit located in San Antonio. Your final decree or order has a paragraph which states that any informal payments do not constitute as child support. If the money is not paid directly to the Disbursement Unit it is not being counted by the State as child support and the Obligor could be held in contempt for nonpayment. It is very important that all child support payments go through the State first.
The first step in the process is getting an order that awards child support in Texas. Once a Final Decree of Divorce or Order in Suit Affecting the Parent-Child Relationship has been submitted to the Court and signed by a Judge, the child support process begins. This process can take a few days to a month from the date the order was signed, so don’t panic if you are not contacted immediately by a representative of the Office of Attorney General or the State Disbursement Unit.
The second step in the process depends on the method of payment that was ordered in the decree. If a wage withholding order was issued along with your Final Decree or Order, the Child Support Division of the Office of Attorney General will direct the Obligor’s employer to begin withholding child support payments from the obligor’s checks on a weekly/biweekly/monthly basis, depending on what was ordered in the decree. There is no need for either of the parties to do anything regarding this; a wage withholding order signed by the Court already directs any employer of the obligor to automatically deduct a certain amount a specific amount of times per month. Once the money is deducted from the paychecks it is logged by the State Disbursement Unit and then sent to the Obligee.
If there was no wage withholding order issued, the Obligor is responsible for making payments directly to the State Disbursement Unit located in San Antonio. These monthly payments are tracked so the State always has a log of whether parties are current on child support payments.
The third step in the process is contacting you, the Obligee, to arrange how you will receive the child support payments. The Office of Attorney General will contact you regarding how you would like to receive the child support payments. There are two options: you may either have the money directly deposited into your bank account or you may receive a Texas Debit Card, which does not require a bank account and child support payments are added to the balance of the card each month. You will be required to submit a form to begin the direct deposit process or to sign up for the debit card; both forms can be located at http://www.oag.state.tx.us/cs/parents. Once you have your method of receiving the child support payments established, you’ll be finished with the process and will receive your monthly payments automatically.
Both obligees and obligors are given a Customer Information Number once they enroll with the Office of Attorney General so that they may keep track of the status of all payments and account activity. That website is https://childsupport.oag.state.tx.us/wps/portal/csi.
If you have questions or concerns you may contact the Office of Attorney General with inquiries about your case at either the websites listed above or at your local field office.