PRIVATE ATTORNEY VS. TEXAS OFFICE OF THE ATTORNEY GENERAL CHILD SUPPORT DIVISION (OAG)
What is the job of the Office of the Attorney General Child Support Division?
Attorneys with the office of the OAG can assist with establishing paternity, finding missing parents, establishing child support, and enforcing the collection of unpaid child support. Most important to remember is that the OAG attorney does not represent either parent or conservator of the child or children; this means the OAG does not represent the party who requests services. The OAG only represents the State of Texas. This means that cases with children on TANF (Temporary Assistance to Needy Families, CHIP, and Medicaid) will be prioritized.
Those parents or conservators using TANF or Medicaid for their children are required to apply for OAG child support services. This does not mean the OAG will take the case, will work on the case, and it still means that the OAG does not represent the parent or conservator.
Differences between OAG and Private Attorney
In a case involving the OAG, the OAG can take any action their office sees fit as far as case strategy and reaching agreements. The parents can either hire private attorneys or represent themselves in these matters.
Another big difference is that private attorneys generally have the capability to move your case along more quickly than the OAG. The OAG is bogged down with cases and they focus on those with TANF or Medicaid. If you are not one of those families, and in some cases, if you are one of those families, a private attorney can get child support established more quickly than the OAG.
Custody and Visitation
Federal regulations prohibit the OAG to use child support funding on issues of custody or visitation. While there is limited separate funding available to assist a small portion of conservators with custody and visitation issues, this is not the norm (see www.txaccess.orgfor more information). What this means is that if your case requires visitation or conservatorship to be established (through paternity actions), enforced, or modified, and you request services from the OAG, you will either need a private attorney on the other matters, or you will be representing yourself on the matters of custody and visitation. A private attorney can assist you in combining cases, as allowed by the law, in order to be more time and cost effective.
Even in the few cases where the OAG can assist in custody and visitation, the OAG is still representing the State of Texas and the best interest of the child, not either party/parent.
In general, a private, experienced family law attorney can better use your time and can represent your interests in a way that is consistent with your desires. A private attorney is more suited to represent you and get results in accordance with your requests. You should always consult with a local experienced family law attorney before taking action in your case.