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I hired an attorney in Texas to go to a child support

Customer Question
hearing for me. The...
I hired an attorney in Texas to go to a child support hearing for me. The child had turned 21 and I was trying to have the support order terminated. At the time they were saying I owed 84,000 dollars in arrears. I was not aware of the child's existence until she was 6 years old and I was named a father in default, meaning I was never afforded the opportunity to establish paternity or not. That was in 2002. I tried to get the case reopened three times but was unable to for various reasons. I paid current child support from that date on and paid an additional 150 dollars per month back support so I wasn't a dead beat dad. Anyhow during the most recent court the attorney I hired had one of his associates appear and she agreed to me paying 1000.00 a month toward arrears without even disputing the amount owed. This amount is ludicrous as that is over a third of my monthly income. In addition I have three other children who I am the father of that I also pay support. None of this was mentioned at court. I was also told before hand that if I tried to establish contact with the child the mother would dismiss the arrears. I did as directed even though the child wanted nothing to do with me. After finding out what had transpired in court I contacted the attorney and complained. He simply said he did me a favor as he had the reported arrears reduced to summary judgment and that I could have them removed by bankruptcy. As such I recently spoke with a bankruptcy attorney and she disagreed. She suggested I contact another attorney in Texas to see if they could find out the particulars of what happened and rectify the problem.
JA: Because family law varies from place to place, can you tell me what state this is in?
Customer: Texas
JA: Have you talked to a laywer yet?
Customer: I am looking for one
JA: Anything else you want the lawyer to know before I connect you?
Customer: That's it. I just want this over with. It cost me more than just money.
Submitted: 1 year ago.Category: Family Law
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9/12/2016
Family Lawyer: LegalGems, Lawyer replied 1 year ago
LegalGems
LegalGems, Lawyer
Category: Family Law
Satisfied Customers: 10,845
Experience: Experienced Family Law Attorney
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Hello! I will be reviewing your question and posting a response momentarily; if you have any follow up questions please respond here. Thanks!

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Family Lawyer: LegalGems, Lawyer replied 1 year ago

I am very sorry to hear this;

the bankruptcy attorney is correct- child support obligations that are court ordered, whether via an ongoing order or a judgment, are not dischargeable.

The court will look to one's ability to pay before making an order/judgment, unless the party consents to a specific amount. That formula requires looking at current income, number of children, etc. So if an attorney negligently failed to take that into account, and voluntarily agreed to the amount without the client's consent and without advising client of that information, the client has 2 alternatives:

1. file a complaint with the state bar for disciplinary action against the attorney; each state has a fund that is set aside to compensate clients for any financial harm caused by the wrongful actions of their attorney; information on that is here:

https://www.texasbar.com/AM/Template.cfm?Section=Client_Security_Fund1&Template=/CM/HTMLDisplay.cfm&ContentID=31966

Then one can also proceed with a negligence case, the damages being what should have been ordered and what was ordered.

2. Ask the attorney to file a motion with the court to set aside the judgment due to attorney mistake, surprise, neglect, inadvertence. The court has the equitable authority to do this; this would then require the parties to relitigate the amount of support to be paid.

Generally if the parents had an agreement that the parent would not attempt to seek support, most courts will not consider that agreement, as they consider support a child's right, and so the parent is generally not allowed to waive it unless the parental rights are legally terminated.

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Information provided is for educational purposes only. Consultation with a personal attorney is always recommended so your particular facts may be considered. Thank you and take care.

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Family Lawyer: LegalGems, Lawyer replied 1 year ago

Here are the rules of professional conduct:

https://www.texasbar.com/AM/Template.cfm?Section=Client_Security_Fund1&ContentID=27271&Template=/CM/ContentDisplay.cfm

Any offenses would typically be highlighted and included in a written demand to the lawyer requesting the relief; the attorney must have a client's consent before agreeing to a stipulation.

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Family Lawyer: LegalGems, Lawyer replied 1 year ago

Hi- just checking in to see if you needed clarification on any of the above information. If so please post here (there is no additional charge for this) and I will do my best to get you the requested information.

Thank you!

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