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Texas Laws

VERNON'S TEXAS STATUTES AND CODES ANNOTATED FAMILY CODE
TITLE 5. THE PARENT CHILD RELATIONSHIP AND THE SUIT AFFECTING THE PARENT CHILD RELATIONSHIP
SUBTITLE D. ADMINISTRATIVE SERVICES
CHAPTER 231. TITLE IV D SERVICES
SUBCHAPTER A. ADMINISTRATION OF TITLE IV D PROGRAM
§ 231.015. INSURANCE REPORTING PROGRAM.
(a) In consultation with the Texas Department of Insurance and representatives of the insurance industry in this state, including insurance trade associations, the Title IV-D agency by rule shall operate a program to improve the enforcement of child support, including the use of child support liens under Chapter 157. The program shall provide for procedures, including data matches, under which insurance companies shall cooperate with the Title IV-D agency in identifying obligors who owe child support arrearages or who are subject to liens for child support arrearages to intercept certain liability insurance settlements or awards for claims in satisfaction of the arrearage amounts.
(b) An insurance company that provides information or responds to a notice of child support lien or levy under Subchapter G, Chapter 157, or acts in good faith to comply with procedures established by the Title IV-D agency under this section is not liable for those acts under any law to any person.

Rules in the Administrative Code

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Texas Law Change (Effective September 01, 2011)

Sections 157.311(1) and (4), Family Code, are amended to read as follows:
(1) "Account" means:
(A) any type of a demand deposit account, checking or negotiable withdrawal order account, savings account, time deposit account, [money market] mutual fund account, certificate of deposit, or any other instrument of deposit in which an individual has a beneficial ownership either in its entirety or on shared or multiple party basis, including any accrued interest and dividends; and
(B) an insurance policy, including a life insurance policy or annuity contract, in which an individual has a beneficial ownership or [liability insurance] against which an individual may file [has filed] a claim or counterclaim.
(4) "Financial institution" has the meaning assigned by 42 U.S.C. Section 669a(d)(1) and includes a depository institution, depository institution holding company as defined by 12 U.S.C. Section 1813(w), credit union, benefit association, [liability or life] insurance company, [money market] mutual fund, and any similar entity authorized to do business in this state.

Section 157.317(a), Family Code, is amended to read as follows:
(a) A child support lien attaches to all real and personal property not exempt under the Texas Constitution or other law, including:
(1) an account in a financial institution;
(2) a retirement plan, including an individual retirement account; [and]
(3) the proceeds of an [a life] insurance policy, including the proceeds from a life insurance policy or annuity contract and the proceeds from the sale or assignment of life insurance or annuity benefits, a claim for compensation, due to or owned by the obligor: and
(4) property seized and subject to forfeiture under Chapter 59, Code of Criminal Procedure.

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VERNON'S TEXAS STATUTES AND CODES ANNOTATED
FAMILY CODE
TITLE 5. THE PARENT CHILD RELATIONSHIP AND THE SUIT AFFECTING THE PARENT CHILD RELATIONSHIP
SUBTITLE B. SUITS AFFECTING THE PARENT CHILD RELATIONSHIP
CHAPTER 157. ENFORCEMENT
SUBCHAPTER G. CHILD SUPPORT LIEN

157.311. Definitions
In this subchapter:
(1) "Account" means:
(A) any type of a demand deposit account, checking or negotiable withdrawal order account, savings account, time deposit account, money market mutual fund account, certificate of deposit, or any other instrument of deposit in which an individual has a beneficial ownership either in its entirety or on a shared or multiple party basis, including any accrued interest and dividends; and
(B) a life insurance policy in which an individual has a beneficial ownership or liability insurance against which an individual has filed a claim or counterclaim, including for workers' compensation.
(2) "Claimant" means:
(A) the obligee or a private attorney representing the obligee;
(B) the Title IV D agency providing child support services;
(C) a domestic relations office or local registry; or
(D) an attorney appointed as a friend of the court.
(3) "Court having continuing jurisdiction" is the court of continuing, exclusive jurisdiction in this state or a tribunal of another state having jurisdiction under the Uniform Interstate Family Support Act or a substantially similar act.
(4) "Financial institution" has the meaning assigned by 42 U.S.C. Section 669a(d)(1) and includes a depository institution, credit union, benefit association, liability or life insurance company, workers' compensation insurer, money market mutual fund, and any similar entity authorized to do business in this state.
(5) "Lien" means a child support lien issued in this or another state.

157.312. General Provisions
(a) A claimant may enforce child support by a lien as provided in this subchapter.
(b) The remedies provided by this subchapter do not affect the availability of other remedies provided by law.
(c) The lien is in addition to any other lien provided by law.
(d) A child support lien arises by operation of law against real and personal property of an obligor for all amounts of child support due and owing, including any accrued interest, regardless of whether the amounts have been adjudicated or otherwise determined, subject to the requirements of this subchapter for perfection of the lien.
(e) A child support lien arising in another state may be enforced in the same manner and to the same extent as a lien arising in this state.
(f) A foreclosure action under this subchapter is not required as a prerequisite to levy and execution on a judicial or administrative determination of arrearages as provided by Section 157.327.

157.313. Contents of Child Support Lien Notice
(a) Except as provided by Subsection (e), a child support lien notice must contain:
(1) the name and address of the person to whom the notice is being sent;
(2) the style, docket or cause number, and identity of the tribunal of this or another state having continuing jurisdiction of the child support action and, if the case is a Title IV D case, the case number;
(3) the full name, address, and, if known, the birth date, driver's license number, social security number, and any aliases of the obligor;
(4) the full name and, if known, social security number of the obligee;
(5) the amount of the current or prospective child support obligation, the frequency with which current or prospective child support is ordered to be paid, and the amount of child support arrearages owed by the obligor and the date of the signing of the court order, administrative order, or writ that determined the arrearages or the date and manner in which the arrearages were determined;
(6) the rate of interest specified in the court order, administrative order, or writ or, in the absence of a specified interest rate, the rate provided for by law;
(7) the name and address of the person or agency asserting the lien;
(8) the motor vehicle identification number as shown on the obligor's title if the property is a motor vehicle;
(9) a statement that the lien attaches to all nonexempt real and personal property of the obligor that is located or recorded in the state, including any property specifically identified in the notice;
(10) a statement that any ordered child support not timely paid in the future constitutes a final judgment for the amount due and owing, including interest, and accrues up to an amount that may not exceed the lien amount; and
(11) a statement that the obligor is being provided a copy of the lien notice and that the obligor may dispute the arrearage amount by filing suit under Section 157.323.
(b) A claimant may include any other information that the claimant considers necessary.
(c) The lien notice must be verified.
(d) A claimant must file a notice for each after acquired motor vehicle.
(e) A notice of a lien for child support under this section may be in the form authorized by federal law or regulation.

157.314. Filing Lien Notice or Abstract of Judgment; Notice to Obligor
(a) A child support lien notice or an abstract of judgment for past due child support may be filed by the claimant with the county clerk of:
(1) any county in which the obligor is believed to own nonexempt real or personal property;
(2) the county in which the obligor resides; or
(3) the county in which the court having continuing jurisdiction has venue of the suit affecting the parent child relationship.
(b) A child support lien notice may be filed with or delivered to the following, as appropriate:
(1) the clerk of the court in which a claim, counterclaim, or suit by, or on behalf of, the obligor, including a claim or potential right to proceeds from an estate as an heir, beneficiary, or creditor, is pending, provided that a copy of the lien is mailed to the attorney of record for the obligor, if any;
(2) an attorney who represents the obligor in a claim or counterclaim that has not been filed with a court;
(3) any other individual or organization believed to be in possession of real or personal property of the obligor; or
(4) any governmental unit or agency that issues or records certificates, titles, or other indicia of property ownership.
(c) Not later than the 21st day after the date of filing or delivering the child support lien notice, the claimant shall provide a copy of the notice to the obligor by first class or certified mail, return receipt requested, addressed to the obligor at the obligor's last known address. If another person is known to have an ownership interest in the property subject to the lien, the claimant shall provide a copy of the lien notice to that person at the time notice is provided to the obligor.
(d) If a child support lien notice is delivered to a financial institution with respect to an account of the obligor, the institution shall immediately:
(1) provide the claimant with the last known address of the obligor; and
(2) notify any other person having an ownership interest in the account that the account has been frozen in an amount not to exceed the amount of the child support arrearage identified in the notice.

157.3145. Service on Financial Institution
Service of a child support lien notice on a financial institution relating to property held by the institution in the name of, or in behalf of, an obligor is governed by Section 59.008, Finance Code, if the institution is subject to that law, or may be delivered to the registered agent, the institution's main business office in this state, or another address provided by the institution under Section 231.307.

157.315. Recording and Indexing Lien
(a) On receipt of a child support lien notice, the county clerk shall immediately record the notice in the county judgment records as provided in Chapter 52, Property Code.
(b) The county clerk may not charge the Title IV D agency, a domestic relations office, a friend of the court, or any other party a fee for recording the notice of a lien. To qualify for this exemption, the lien notice must be styled "Notice of Child Support Lien" or be in the form authorized by federal law or regulation.
(c) The county clerk may not charge the Title IV D agency, a domestic relations office, or a friend of the court a fee for recording the release of a child support lien. The lien release must be styled "Release of Child Support Lien."

157.316. Perfection of Child Support Lien
(a) Except as provided by Subsection (b), a child support lien is perfected when an abstract of judgment for past due child support or a child support lien notice is filed or delivered as provided by Section 157.314.
(b) If a lien established under this subchapter attaches to a motor vehicle, the lien must be perfected in the manner provided by Chapter 501, Transportation Code, and the court or Title IV D agency that rendered the order of child support shall include in the order a requirement that the obligor surrender to the court or Title IV D agency evidence of the legal ownership of the motor vehicle against which the lien may attach. A lien against a motor vehicle under this subchapter is not perfected until the obligor's title to the vehicle has been surrendered to the court or Title IV D agency and the Texas Department of Transportation has issued a subsequent title that discloses on its face the fact that the vehicle is subject to a child support lien under this subchapter.

157.317. Property to Which Lien Attaches
(a) A child support lien attaches to all real and personal property not exempt under the Texas Constitution or other law, including an account in a financial institution, a retirement plan, including an individual retirement account, the proceeds of a life insurance policy, a claim for negligence, personal injury, or workers' compensation, or an insurance settlement or award for the claim, due to or owned by the obligor on or after the date the lien notice or abstract of judgment is filed with the county clerk of the county in which the property is located, with the court clerk as to property or claims in litigation, or, as to property of the obligor in the possession or control of a third party, from the date the lien notice is filed with that party.
(b) A lien attaches to all nonhomestead real property of the obligor but does not attach to a homestead exempt under the Texas Constitution or the Property Code.

157.318. Duration and Effect of Child Support Lien
(a) A lien is effective until all current support and child support arrearages, including interest and any costs and reasonable attorney's fees, have been paid or the lien is otherwise released as provided by this subchapter.
(b) The lien secures payment of all child support arrearages owed by the obligor under the underlying child support order, including arrearages that accrue after the lien notice was filed or delivered as provided by Section 157.314.
(c) The filing of a lien notice or abstract of judgment with the county clerk is a record of the notice and has the same effect as any other lien notice with respect to real property records.

157.319. Effect of Lien Notice
(a) If a person having actual notice of the lien possesses nonexempt personal property of the obligor that may be subject to the lien, the property may not be paid over, released, sold, transferred, encumbered, or conveyed unless:
(1) a release of lien signed by the claimant is delivered to the person in possession; or
(2) a court, after notice to the claimant and hearing, has ordered the release of the lien because arrearages do not exist.
(b) A person having notice of a child support lien who violates this section may be joined as a party to a foreclosure action under this chapter and is subject to the penalties [FN1] provided by this subchapter.
(c) This section does not affect the validity or priority of a lien of a health care provider, a lien for attorney's fees, or a lien of a holder of a security interest. This section does not affect the assignment of rights or subrogation of a claim under Title XIX of the federal Social Security Act (42 U.S.C. Section 1396 et seq.), as amended.

157.320. Priority of Lien as to Real Property
(a) A lien created under this subchapter does not have priority over a lien or conveyance of an interest in the nonexempt real property recorded before the child support lien notice is recorded in the county where the real property is located.
(b) A lien created under this subchapter has priority over any lien or conveyance of an interest in the nonexempt real property recorded after the child support lien notice is recorded in the county clerk's office in the county where the property of the obligor is located.
(c) A conveyance of real property by the obligor after a lien notice has been recorded in the county where the real property is located is subject to the lien and may not impair the enforceability of the lien against the real property.
(d) A lien created under this subchapter is subordinate to a vendor's lien retained in a conveyance to the obligor.

157.321. Discretionary Release of Lien
A child support lien claimant may at any time release a lien on all or part of the property of the obligor or return seized property, without liability, if assurance of payment is considered adequate by the claimant or if the release or return will facilitate the collection of the arrearages. The release or return may not operate to prevent future action to collect from the same or other property owned by the obligor.

157.322. Mandatory Release of Lien
(a) On payment in full of the amount of child support due, together with any costs and reasonable attorney's fees, the child support lien claimant shall execute and deliver to the obligor or the obligor's attorney a release of the child support lien.
(b) The release of the child support lien is effective when:
(1) filed with the county clerk with whom the lien notice or abstract of judgment was filed; or
(2) delivered to any other individual or organization that may have been served with a lien notice under this subchapter.

157.323. Foreclosure or Suit to Determine Arrearages
(a) In addition to any other remedy provided by law, an action to foreclose a child support lien, to dispute the amount of arrearages stated in the lien, or to resolve issues of ownership interest with respect to property subject to a child support lien may be brought in:
(1) the court in which the lien notice was filed under Section 157. 314(b)(1);
(2) the district court of the county in which the property is or was located and the lien was filed; or
(3) the court of continuing jurisdiction.
(b) The procedures provided by Subchapter B [FN1] apply to a foreclosure action under this section, except that a person or organization in possession of the property of the obligor or known to have an ownership interest in property that is subject to the lien may be joined as an additional respondent.
(c) If arrearages are owed by the obligor, the court shall:
(1) render judgment against the obligor for the amount due, plus costs and reasonable attorney's fees;
(2) order any official authorized to levy execution to satisfy the lien, costs, and attorney's fees by selling any property on which a lien is established under this subchapter; or
(3) order an individual or organization in possession of nonexempt personal property or cash owned by the obligor to dispose of the property as the court may direct.
(d) For execution and sale under this section, publication of notice is necessary only for three consecutive weeks in a newspaper published in the county where the property is located or, if there is no newspaper in that county, in the most convenient newspaper in circulation in the county.

157.324. Liability for Failure to Comply With Order or Lien
A person who knowingly disposes of property subject to a child support lien, who, after a foreclosure hearing, fails to surrender on demand nonexempt personal property as directed by a court or administrative order under this subchapter, or who fails to comply with a notice of levy under this subchapter is liable to the claimant in an amount equal to the arrearages for which the lien, notice of levy, or foreclosure judgment was issued.

157.325. Release of Excess Funds to Debtor or Obligor
(a) If a person has in the person's possession earnings, deposits, accounts, balances, or other funds or assets of the obligor, including the proceeds of a judgment or other settlement of a claim or counterclaim due to the obligor that are in excess of the amount of arrearages specified in the child support lien, the holder of the nonexempt personal property or the obligor may request that the claimant release any excess amount from the lien. The claimant shall grant the request and discharge any lien on the excess amount unless the security for the arrearages would be impaired.
(b) If the claimant refuses the request, the holder of the personal property or the obligor may file suit under this subchapter for an order determining the amount of arrearages and discharging excess personal property or money from the lien.

157.326. Interest of Obligor's Spouse or Another Person Having Ownership Interest
(a) A spouse of an obligor or another person having an ownership interest in property that is subject to a child support lien may file suit under Section 157.323 to determine the extent, if any, of the spouse's or other person's interest in real or personal property that is subject to:
(1) a lien perfected under this subchapter; or
(2) an action to foreclose under this subchapter.
(b) After notice to the obligor, the obligor's spouse, any other person alleging an ownership interest, the claimant, and the obligee, the court shall conduct a hearing and determine the extent, if any, of the ownership interest in the property held by the obligor's spouse or other person. If the court finds that:
(1) the property is the separate property of the obligor's spouse or the other person, the court shall order that the lien against the property be released and that any action to foreclose on the property be dismissed;
(2) the property is jointly owned by the obligor and the obligor's spouse, the court shall determine whether the sale of the obligor's interest in the property would result in an unreasonable hardship on the obligor's spouse or family and:
(A) if so, the court shall render an order that the obligor's interest in the property not be sold and that the lien against the property should be released; or
(B) if not, the court shall render an order partitioning the property and directing that the property be sold and the proceeds applied to the child support arrearages; or
(3) the property is owned in part by another person, other than the obligor's spouse, the court shall render an order partitioning the property and directing that the obligor's share of the property be applied to the child support arrearages.
(c) In a proceeding under this section, the spouse or other person claiming an ownership interest in the property has the burden to prove the extent of that ownership interest.

157.327. Execution and Levy on Financial Assets of Obligor
(a) Notwithstanding any other provision of law, if a judgment or administrative determination of arrearages has been rendered, a claimant may deliver a notice of levy to any financial institution possessing or controlling assets or funds owned by, or owed to, an obligor and subject to a child support lien, including a lien for child support arising in another state.
(b) The notice under this section must:
(1) identify the amount of child support arrearages owing at the time the amount of arrearages was determined; and
(2) direct the financial institution to pay to the claimant, not earlier than the 15th day or later than the 21st day after the date of delivery of the notice, an amount from the assets of the obligor or from funds due to the obligor that are held or controlled by the institution, not to exceed the amount of the child support arrearages identified in the notice, unless:
(A) the institution is notified by the claimant that the obligor has paid the arrearages or made arrangements satisfactory to the claimant for the payment of the arrearages;
(B) the obligor or another person files a suit under Section 157.323 requesting a hearing by the court; or
(C) if the claimant is the Title IV D agency, the obligor has requested an agency review under Section 157.328.
(c) A financial institution that receives a notice of levy under this section may not close an account in which the obligor has an ownership interest, permit a withdrawal from any account the obligor owns, in whole or in part, or pay funds to the obligor so that any amount remaining in the account is less than the amount of the arrearages identified in the notice, plus any fees due to the institution and any costs of the levy identified by the claimant.
(d) A financial institution that receives a notice of levy under this section shall notify any other person having an ownership interest in an account in which the obligor has an ownership interest that the account has been levied on in an amount not to exceed the amount of the child support arrearages identified in the notice of levy.
(e) The notice of levy may be delivered to a financial institution as provided by Section 59.008, Finance Code, if the institution is subject to that law or may be delivered to the registered agent, the institution's main business office in this state, or another address provided by the institution under Section 231.307.

157.328. Notice of Levy Sent to Obligor
(a) At the time the notice of levy under Section 157.327 is delivered to a financial institution, the claimant shall serve the obligor with a copy of the notice.
(b) The notice of levy delivered to the obligor must inform the obligor that:
(1) the claimant will not proceed with levy if, not later than the 10th day after the date of receipt of the notice, the obligor pays in full the amount of arrearages identified in the notice or otherwise makes arrangements acceptable to the claimant for the payment of the arrearage amounts; and
(2) the obligor may contest the levy by filing suit under Section 157.323 not later than the 10th day after the date of receipt of the notice.
(c) If the claimant is the Title IV D agency, the obligor receiving a notice of levy may request review by the agency not later than the 10th day after the date of receipt of the notice to resolve any issue in dispute regarding the existence or amount of the arrearages. The agency shall provide an opportunity for a review, by telephone conference or in person, as appropriate to the circumstances, not later than the fifth business day after the date an oral or written request from the obligor for the review is received. If the review fails to resolve any issue in dispute, the obligor may file suit under Section 157.323 for a hearing by the court not later than the fifth day after the date of the conclusion of the agency review. If the obligor fails to timely file suit, the Title IV D agency may request the financial institution to release and remit the funds subject to levy.
(d) The notice under this section may be delivered to the last known address of the obligor by first class mail, certified mail, or registered mail.

157.329. No Liability for Compliance With Notice of Levy
A financial institution that possesses or has a right to an obligor's assets for which a notice of levy has been delivered and that surrenders the assets or right to assets to a child support lien claimant is not liable to the obligor or any other person for the property or rights surrendered.

157.330. Failure to Comply With Notice of Levy
A person who possesses or has a right to property that is the subject of a notice of levy delivered to the person and who refuses to surrender the property or right to property to the claimant on demand is liable to the claimant in an amount equal to the value of the property or right to property not surrendered but that does not exceed the amount of the child support arrearages for which the notice of levy has been filed.

157.331. Additional Levy to Satisfy Arrearages
If the property or right to property on which a notice of levy has been filed does not produce money sufficient to satisfy the amount of child support arrearages identified in the notice of levy, the claimant may proceed to levy on other property of the obligor until the total amount of child support due is paid.

[Sections 157.332 to 157.370 reserved for expansion]

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