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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 your 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 right 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 as 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

What happens once the court receives 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 affidavit—are 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 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. 

To read the law about registering an out-of-state custody determination or order, see Texas Family Code 152.305.

To read the law about registering an out-of-state support order, see Texas Family Code 159.602.

 

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 an 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 are unable to pay court fees, you can find out more about court fee waivers here.

 

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 registration - letter or document, 1 certified copy of the out of state order, 1 regular copy of the out of state order, and affidavit - are 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) you named in the affidavit. 

Notice is required because it provides the other parent the opportunity 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, name of employer, address of employment, and work telephone number. 

If your order requires you to update your contact information with the other parent, then 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 does not require you to share your contact information, then you may not need to update the other parent. While completing your statement or affidavit, you must make clear that you are asking for a nondisclosure of your present address. You should speak to an attorney to make sure you do not have to share this information with the other parent.