In this article, you will learn what to expect in a virtual appearance in IV-D Court (also known as child support court). It does not explain specific legal actions in IV-D Court–just an idea of what will happen and how to prepare for virtual IV-D Court.
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How do I know if I have a virtual hearing?
If the IV-D Court schedules your case for a virtual hearing, you will receive the hearing information through an email from the Office of the Attorney General (OAG) with the date, time, and link.
If you received a citation to appear in virtual IV-D Court, it is a court-issued order for you to appear virtually before the judge in IV-D Court with the date, time, and details for access to the virtual hearing (usually a “Meeting ID”).
If there is no information about a virtual hearing, contact the OAG or the court coordinator to ask.
What should I expect in Virtual IV-D court?
On the day of your hearing, you will join the hearing using Zoom. Try to join the hearing at least 15 minutes early. To join the meeting, click the ‘Join’ link or dial the phone number the court sent you. Before joining the hearing, you need to enter your full name and any other information the court asked you to provide.
If you or the other party are testifying, the judge will virtually swear you in. You will then be under oath to tell the truth during the hearing. Lying to the Court can result in a fine or time in jail. See Texas Penal code chapter 37, which explains the crime of perjury (lying under oath).
Come to court prepared. The hearing is live, and this means anything you say during the hearing may be heard by anyone observing the hearing. The hearing will be recorded. Everything said will be captured and made a part of the record as it would in a physical courtroom.
You may be placed in a virtual breakout room during the hearing. This allows participants to meet privately to discuss the terms of their child support order.
What documents should I bring to court with me?
You should bring documents showing:
Federal Income Taxes for the past two years;
Proof of a new job and its start date;
Health insurance information;
premiums paid for the child;
Proof of child support payments;
Proof of extra payments;
Any benefits award letters received;
Any other proof that can show you provided financial support to the children;
And any other proof that may support your testimony.
These are all considered evidence. If you want to know more about evidence, you can read Gathering and Presenting Evidence for additional explanation.
I want to share evidence with the court. How do I do that?
Check with your court coordinator several days before the hearing. Some courts want you to e-mail your documents before the hearing. You may need to scan and upload your documents to share them with the court. The coordinator can handle them so the judge, court reporter, and the other side can see your exhibits at the right time during your hearing.
Some courts may have strict deadlines for sending in documents. You should ask the court coordinator and a lawyer who practices in that jurisdiction to learn how your court is handling this. The court coordinator is in charge of managing the court's schedule (docket) and the main contact for setting hearings. They will know the specific rules on how evidence is handled in their court. You can usually find the court coordinator's contact information on the county's webpage.
Do I need a lawyer?
Having a lawyer represent your interests in IV-D Court is the best idea. But it is not always necessary or possible.
Can my children be in the house while I attend virtual court?
No. Just as you would not bring children to physical court with you, you should not have your children in your home during the hearing. Try to find a babysitter or someone you trust to watch your children outside of your home during the hearing.
How do I set up Zoom for a virtual hearing?
You can download the app on your computer or smartphone before your scheduled hearing, but the web version is also available. You do not need to create a Zoom account to join a virtual Zoom hearing, only an e-mail address. The Office of Court Administration and the Texas Access to Justice Commission share a guided process that includes instructions, links, processes, and procedures for self-represented litigants.
If you choose to create a Zoom account, you must activate your account. You will receive an e-mail from Zoom (email@example.com). In this e-mail, click ‘Activate Account.’ After you do this, your account is activated and ready to use.
What if I don’t have access to the internet or a phone?
Contact the OAG as soon as possible. The hearing may be postponed until everyone is able to participate.
Is the virtual courtroom more casual than a regular courtroom?
No. A virtual courtroom is still “real” court and should be treated as such.
What are some other Zoom tips?
Prior to your hearing, test your internet connection and set up a Zoom testing meeting.
Make sure the device you are using for the hearing is charged, and there is a charger within reaching distance.
Use a headset or headphones with a built-in microphone if you have one that works with your device.
Make sure you have all the paperwork you may need during the hearing.
Before joining the Zoom meeting by phone or video, set yourself up in the most private, quiet place you have available so you can hear and be heard during the hearing with no distractions.
If you are using your phone, try to find a secure location to prop it up so you can look at it directly without holding it in your hand.
Check your lighting. You want the light to be in front of your face, so your face is not shadowed or dark.
Pause a moment before speaking in case there is any audio/video lag to avoid confusion.
Mute yourself when you are not speaking in order to avoid background noise.
When speaking, look directly at the camera (not at the screen).
What does "IV-D" refer to?
Title IV-D of the Social Security Act requires states to provide child support assistance, including:
- locating noncustodial parents,
- establishing paternity,
- establishing and enforcing child support obligations, and
- collecting child support payments.
Child Custody & Visitation
Child Custody & Visitation
Learn what to expect if you are ordered to appear in a IV-D Court (also known as child support court).
Learn what to expect if you are ordered to appear in an IV-D Court (also known as child support court).
This article explains what to expect if you are ordered to appear in a IV-D Court (also known as child support court).
This article answers frequently asked questions about enforcing your child support orders yourself.
This article explains when IV-D Courts (also known as child support court) can establish paternity.
Some Texas courts will hold hearings by videoconference, usually using Zoom.