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Registering Other States' Custody and Support Orders in Texas

Child Custody & Visitation

This article discusses registering other states' custody and support orders in Texas so that Texas courts can change and enforce them.

Can I register my out-of-state court order in Texas?

Yes. Registering your out-of-state order can be helpful if you want Texas to enforce your out-of-state order. In order to register your out-of-state custody order, send the following documents to the appropriate Texas district court:

  • A letter or other document requesting registration;
  • Two copies, including one certified copy, of the out-of-state order that you want to register.
  • A statement under penalty of perjury that, to the best of your knowledge and belief, the order has not been modified; and
  • Your name and address as well as the name and address of any other person listed as a party to the out-of-state order you are seeking to register.

See Texas Family Code 152.305(b).

How do I register my out-of-state child support order in Texas?

First, get a certified copy of your out-of-state child support order or out-of-state income withholding order. The income withholding order is the order that tells the obligor’s (person paying child support) employer to withhold support from their paycheck. A certified copy of your order will have an endorsement, certificate, seal, or stamp on it to prove it is a true and correct copy of the original order. 

Once you receive the certified copy of your out-of-state child support order or income withholding order, you must determine where to register it. Registration is appropriate in the district clerk of the Texas county where the child has lived for the prior six months. 

Once you know the correct Texas county to register your out-of-state support order or income withholding order, you must prepare and file a letter or other document requesting the registration and enforcement of the orders. Along with the letter, you will include two copies of your support order or income withholding order: one certified copy and one regular copy. 

Your letter must include:

  • your name and address, if you are the person receiving support;
  • the name of the obligor (person paying child support);
  • their address and social security number, if known;
  • the name and address of their employer and any and all sources of their income; and
  • a description of and the location of any non-exempt property in Texas. If you have questions about what constitutes non-exempt property, you should speak with a lawyer. 

As the person asking for registration, you must also include a sworn statement by the custodian of records showing the amount of any support arrearages.

See Texas Family Code 159.602

When does the other parent get notice that the court received the required legal documents?

Once all of the required legal documents—letter or document, one certified copy of the out-of-state order, one regular copy of the out-of-state order, and the affidavit—is received, the registering court will file the out-of-state order as foreign judgment and will serve notice on the persons (the parent or other person acting as a parent) named in the affidavit. 

Notice provides the other parent the opportunity to contest the registration. The notice must state that the registered foreign judgment (out-of-state order) is enforceable in Texas as of the date of registration. This means that a Texas court can enforce the out-of-state order as if a Texas court issued the order.

The notice must state that the other parent or person acting as a parent must request a hearing to contest the validity of the registered out-of-state order within 20 days after service of the notice. The notice must also state that the failure of the other parent to contest the registration will result in confirmation of the out-of-state order in Texas and will prevent them from contesting in the future. 

 

What if the other parent contests the registration of our out-of-state order in Texas?

If the other parent wants to contest the validity of the registered order, they must request a hearing within 20 days after service of the notice.

At the hearing, the court will confirm the registered order unless the parent contesting registration can prove certain facts to the registering court.

The parent contesting registration must prove one of the following:

  1. That the issuing, out-of-state court did not have jurisdiction to make its orders.
  2. That the child custody judgment to be registered has been vacated, stayed, or modified by a court having jurisdiction to do so.
  3. That the person contesting registration was entitled to notice, but notice was not given as required for non-Texas residents, as part of the proceedings before the court that issued the order to be registered. See Texas Family Code 152.108.

If the person contesting registration does not make a timely request for a hearing, registration of the order will be confirmed as a matter of law. Then, all parties (the person requesting registration, the other parent, and any person acting as a parent) must be notified of the confirmation.

Confirmation of the registered (out-of-state) order, whether by operation of law (meaning the other parent did not contest or did not contest properly) or after notice and hearing, prevents further contest of the order. This is true for any matter that could have been brought up at the time of the order’s registration.

What are the fees associated with registration of my out-of-state order in Texas?

There will be a cost to purchase a certified copy of your out-of-state order. You need to check with the court or clerk’s office in the county or district where your order was first issued to figure out how much a certified copy of your order will cost.

There will also be filing fees in Texas, in the county where you are registering your out-of-state order. There may be other court fees depending on your case. For example, you may need to pay for copies or pay to have the other side served with court papers. If you are registering your custody order and also requesting enforcement or modification of the order at the same time as registration, then you are going to have filing fees for those lawsuits, as well. You should check with your district clerk’s office to find out how much the filing fees are because court fees vary by county. 

If you cannot afford to pay court fees, you may be able to get them waived. See Court Fees and Fee Waivers.

 

Does the other parent need to know I am registering our order in Texas?

Yes. Under Texas law, once all of the required legal documents for registrationletter or document, one certified copy of the out-of-state order, one regular copy of the out-of-state order, and the affidavitis received, the registering court will file the out-of-state order as a foreign judgment. It will serve notice on the persons (the parent or other person acting as a parent) you named in the affidavit. 

Notice is required because it allows the other parent to contest the registration. 

What if I do not want the other parent to know I am in Texas?

Texas law requires parents to share their current and any new contact information with the other parent. But, Texas law also says that if requiring a parent to provide this contact information would likely cause the parent or child harassment, abuse, serious harm, or injury, or subject the parent or child to family violence, then the contact information may not be disclosed to the other parent. Texas Family Code 105.006.

Read your order carefully to determine if you must update your contact information with the other parent. Not all orders are the same. Generally, family law orders require parents to share and update the other parent with their current residence address, mailing address (if different from physical address), home/cell phone number, employer’s name, address of employment, and work telephone number. 

If your order requires you to update your contact information with the other parent, you need to follow your order and share this information with the other parent. If you do not update your information, you may be violating your court order. This could lead to you being held in contempt of court. Talk to a lawyer about the consequences of violating a court order or if you have concerns that sharing your new contact information may affect your or your child’s safety.

If your order has a nondisclosure clause or language that exempts you from sharing your contact information, you may not need to update the other parent. While completing your statement or affidavit, you must make clear that you are asking for nondisclosure of your present address. Talk to a lawyer to make sure you do not have to share this information with the other parent. 

I already have a custody order from another state. Can a Texas court enforce my court order?

Yes. A Texas court must recognize and enforce a child custody order from another state in conformity with the UCCJEA. In enforcing an out-of-state court order, a Texas court may use any remedy available under Texas law.

How do I know if my family law case should be in Texas?

If you and your children moved to Texas and have been living in this state for at least six months, then Texas has acquired jurisdiction over your family law case. Jurisdiction is the legal authority of a court to hear and decide a certain type of case. The county where the children have lived for the past six months is the proper venue for the case. Venue refers to the Texas county where the lawsuit is to be filed and tried. 

The six months or longer time period does not need to be in consecutive months. The court can count short periods of the child’s absence from Texas as part of the six months. This will depend on the evidence presented and the judge’s decision. If the child is younger than six months old but has resided in Texas since birth, then a Texas court can make orders for your child. 

If you have a family law order from another state, you and the other parent should still follow it no matter what state you currently live in. Court orders stay in effect until a new court order is entered.

Can I modify another state’s custody order in Texas?

You can modify another state’s custody order in Texas. The child or children subject to the out-of-state order must have been living in Texas for the past six months for a Texas court to make orders concerning the children. 

A Texas court can also make an emergency order under the UCCJEA if the child has not been in the state for at least six months.

Can I enforce another state’s custody order in Texas?

You can enforce another state’s custody order in Texas. You can request to enforce all child-related matters in your out-of-state order under Texas law, after your order is registered in Texas. These matters may include conservatorship, possession and access, and support. In Texas, conservatorship, or what is sometimes called custody, refers to the right and duties a parent has, or the decision-making authority a parent has for their child.  

All out-of-state orders that are registered in Texas are enforceable in Texas as of the date of their registration. This means that a Texas court can enforce the out-of-state order as if a Texas court issued the order.

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    File this letter to ask the court to register your custody orders from another state.
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    File this affidavit with your letter asking to register another state's custody order in Texas.