Judy Branham
Executive Director


Monday - Friday
8:00 am to 4:30 pm

500 E. San Antonio
Suite LL-108
El Paso, Texas 79901
Phone (915) 834-8200
Fax (915) 834-8299

Management Action Plan

Domestic Relations Office

  • Frequently Asked Questions
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  • Divorce and separation can be traumatic for families especially for children of all ages. This is true even when divorce is "friendly", "civil" or in the best interest of all family members. Divorce and separation brings children feelings of powerlessness, hopelessness and helplessness to do anything about the situation which can be traumatizing to children. Children do not have a say so whether their parents remain married or not and have to undergo significant changes in their lives that they would have otherwise chosen not to experience. The reality is most children would like their parents to reconcile following the separation and divorce.
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  • The Texas Family Code believes that both parents should support their children and encourage frequent and continuing contact between children and both parents after separation and divorce. This diminishes disruption or change experienced by children when parents are separated or divorced.
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  • Parents can expect to find themselves undergoing many changes such as finding a new home, challenges in scheduling parenting time, changes in family traditions, changes in making parenting decisions, and changes in their financial status. It is widely believed among family law experts that it is best for parents to take the high road even under the most difficult circumstances. Impressionable children are watching and learning how to handle difficult problems from their parents.
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  • Divorce does not have to be the worse experience a family ever faces, if handled with care, it can be the best life lesson parents can teach their children.
  • The County of El Paso Domestic Relations office offers services to families to help them diminish change, maintain a level of normalcy after separation and divorce, and help families stay out of busy courts.
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  • We recommend reading the children's Bill of Rights:
  • http://www.epcounty.com/dro/forms/children.pdf
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  • Family Law Acronyms
  • SAPCR – Suits Affecting Parent Child Relations
  • SDU – State Disbursement Unit
  • OAG – Office of the Attorney General
  • SPO - Standard Possession Order
  • CP - Custodial Parent
  • NCP - Non-Custodial Parent
  • SSN – Social Security Number
  • DOB – Date of Birth
  • CS – Child Support
  • DP Affidavit – Direct Payment Affidavit
  • OBLIGOR – Person paying child support
  • OBLIGEE – Person receiving child support
  • CSMCS – Child Support Monitoring and Customer Service (a division within the DRO)
  • FOC – Friend of Court (a division within the DRO)
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  • How can I start receiving child support?

    You must have a court order - like a divorce decree, a paternity or establishment decree, a protective order, temporary orders , or a modification order, before you will be entitled to receive child support.

    Once you have a court order for child/medical support, you should take it to the Domestic Relations Office, 500 E. San Antonio (El Paso County Courthouse), Room LL108 to request that child support be deducted from the paycheck of the person ordered to pay. You will need to pay the $70 fee and provide the residence and employment address of the person ordered to pay child support.

    In addition, if you have a child support order issued by an El Paso County family court, and are not receiving child support, you can apply for Enforcement Services with the Domestic Relations Office.

    What is child support?

    Child support is usually in the form of monthly payments from the non-custodial parent (Obligor) to the custodial parent (Obligee).

    Under Texas law child support includes medical support as well. Most orders require that an Obligor provide medical support for his/her children. That can be done several ways:

    * Obligor enrolls children in employer provided health insurance or obtains coverage on the market;

    * Obligee enrolls children in employer provided health insurance or obtains coverage on the market and Obligor reimburses Obligee for the cost of covering the children; or

    * Either party enrolls the children in CHIP and Obligor pays monthly cash medical support to pay for premiums, uninsured expenses and/or over the counter medications; or

    * Either party enrolls the children in Medicaid and Obligor pays the Medicaid premium; or

    * Obligor pays cash medical support to cover all medical needs of children.

    It is also common for courts to order each parent to pay 50% of any out-of-pocket health care costs (except for over-the-counter medicines) for the children. Occasionally, a court may order other forms of child support such as payment of tutoring or private school.

    How do you calculate how much child support a person owes?

    Child support is due, in the full amount, on the day the order says it is to be paid. A missed child support payment is considered delinquent on the day after its due date. For example, if child support is ordered to be paid on the first day of each month, it is late on the second day. After 31 days, it begins to accrue interest at 6% per annum. The next month’s payment does not make up for the missed payment. Each missed payment is considered a separate judgment by operation of law.

    This is important to remember when calculating delinquent child support. Interest runs on each separate missed payment and must be included in the calculation. The Domestic Relations Office uses a computer program to calculate the exact amount of delinquent child support and interest.

    How much child support should I pay/receive?

    Different states use different formulas for calculating a parent's child support obligation. Under Texas Law, an obligor owes a certain percentage of his or her "net resources." Texas law does not take a spouse's income or the income of the custodial parent into account in calculating child support. The formula used to calculate support under Texas law is complex. Please consult an attorney for this information. You may wish to estimate the amount by using the Monthly Child Support Calculator located at this link: [CLICK HERE]

    Once I have a child support order, what is next?

    Once you have a court order for child/medical support, you should take it to the Domestic Relations Office, 500 E. San Antonio (El Paso County Courthouse), Room LL108 begin the child support payment process. An account must be established at the Texas State Child Support Disbursement Unit (SDU) by law, and must be deducted from the paycheck of the person ordered to pay. You will need to provide the residence and employment address of the person ordered to pay child support. You may be charged a $70.00 processing fee for the administrative writ.

    If your order was entered on or after March 1, 2013, your case may be assigned to our Local Rule caseload. In this case, there are no fees charged for any services provided by the Domestic Relations Office in these cases.

    In addition, if you have a child support order issued by an El Paso County family court, and are not receiving child support, you can apply for Enforcement Services with the Domestic Relations Office.

    Can the court order the Obligor to pay child support after my child is 18 years of age?

    In general, Texas law provides that parents have an obligation to support a child until the child is 18 years of age or has graduated from high school, whichever occurs later. However, under certain circumstances, the obligation to support the child might end earlier (such as when a child marries before the age of 18) or later (such as when a child is disabled). Each court order may have different provisions.

    I already have a court order for child support, but the obligor isn't paying. What can I do?

    If you have employment information, the Domestic Relations Office can issue an administrative writ of withholding to have your child support deducted from the Obligor’s paycheck and sent to the Texas State Disbursement Unit.

    In addition, you may apply for enforcement services through the DRO, or through the Office of the Attorney General, or you may hire a private attorney to file suit for you to enforce the child support.

    Texas law provides many ways to enforce child support, including wage withholding, contempt (with the possibility of jail), probation, judgments for arrears, license suspensions, child support liens, and credit reporting.

    My ex has custody of our children, and has remarried. Do I still have to pay child support?

    Yes, the marital status of the custodial parent does not affect the obligation to pay child support.

    The court order says I have to pay child support, but my child lives with me now. Do I still have to pay support?

    Yes, the only way to be sure that you aren't held liable for paying support when the child is living with you is to modify your court order to show that you now have custody, and don't owe child support anymore. Please see a private attorney for more assistance.

    Is a child eligible for child support if he or she is also receiving monthly welfare assistance from the Texas Department of Human Services?

    Yes, the fact that a parent is receiving welfare benefits does not mean the child is not eligible for child support from the other parent. Child support in public assistance cases is handled by the Office of the Attorney General. For more detailed information you may wish to contact the Office of the Attorney General at (800) 252-6014 or at www.oag.state.tx.us.

    My order says I'm supposed to get reimbursed for the cost of health insurance for my child. Does that payment go through the SDU too?

    That depends. Many different things can be considered child support. If your court order says a certain payment is child support, then it IS child support, and may be enforceable just like the regular monthly payments. Texas law requires a court to make some provisions for health insurance for each child, but this can be done in several different ways: the obligor may be ordered to have health insurance, the obligee may be ordered to have health insurance and the obligor ordered to reimburse the obligee for the cost, or the obligor may be required to simply pay a certain amount of money to the obligee every month as medical support for the children, when actual health insurance is not available to either one of the parents. If the obligor is ordered to pay money to the obligee for the cost of health insurance, or just as medical support, that money should be paid through the State Disbursement Unit so the obligor gets credit for the payment. If you are unsure what your court order requires you to do, or where to send your payment, you may call us at 834-8298 or email us.

    What is the "State Disbursement Unit (SDU)?"

    Several years ago, federal law ordered all the states to create a central registry to process most child support payments for that state. In Texas, that central state registry is called the "State Disbursement Unit." It is run by the Office of the Attorney General. Even if your child support payments are processed through the SDU does not necessarily mean you have a case open with the Attorney General. Fortunately, the DRO has a direct link to the SDU computer system, and we can answer questions about your child support payments even when those payments go through the SDU. Our staff is available to answer any questions during our regular business hours, 8:00 a.m. - 4:30 p.m., Monday – Friday at 915/834-8257.

    My divorce decree says to pay the child support through the State Disbursement Unit, but my ex wants me to pay it directly to her. Is that a problem?

    YES! Texas law (§154.004 of the Texas Family Code, specifically) states that child support payments SHALL be ordered to be paid through an official registry. The DRO is notified of new child support orders and then tracks the payments made in those case numbers. If there are no payments being made through the SDU registry, we assume the obligor is behind in the child support payments and initiate legal action. Furthermore, when payments are made directly, problems often there is no single, clear record of what payments were made. Sometimes the obligor can prove that payments were made, but the obligee claims that some of the payments were for things other than child support. These are just a couple of the problems that we see every day in cases where payments were not made through the State Disbursement Unit. In most circumstances, when payments are made directly to the custodial parent, a court order is required in order to apply the credit to the noncustodial parent’s account. In these types of cases, the custodial parent must fill out an affidavit of direct payment, and the DRO will file an action in court to help the noncustodial parent obtain the necessary court order. The affidavit of direct payment can be accessed by clicking here: Affidavit of Direct Payments(8.52 KB)

    My lawyer put in my court order that the child support payments would be made directly, so I can get my checks faster. But someone from the DRO told me my order wasn't supposed to say that! What's the right answer?

    Texas law (Section 154.004 of the Texas Family Code) says that: “The court shall order the payment of child support to the State Disbursement Unit.”

    Sometimes attorneys prepare orders that do not comply with this law, and the judges often don't catch it. If the DRO becomes aware of such an order, the DRO may, under certain circumstances, have the court correct it.

    What if I have a case with the Attorney General?

    If you have an open case with the Texas Attorney General’s Office, the EPCDRO can provide you with payment information or you can contact the Attorney General's office by calling 1(800) 252-8014. If you do not know whether you have a case open with the OAG, you can call these same numbers to find out, or access their website at https://www.texasattorneygeneral.gov/cs.

    Is the DRO different from the Attorney General? I thought they were the same, since they both handle child support.

    The DRO is a county office, handling only divorce and private suits affecting parent-child relationship cases in El Paso County. The OAG (Office of the Attorney General) is a state office. The OAG is the official state child support agency for the State of Texas, (also called the "IV-D" agency - pronounced "four-dee"). The federal government passed a law in 1995 requiring all states to have a state-wide child support program under Title IV-D, Part D of the Social Security Act.

    The Office of the Attorney General handles a caseload that is different than the Domestic Relations Office. The Domestic Relations Office handles parent-child orders that are issued in divorces, protective orders, and modification of orders issued before 3/1/2013. Because of agreements between the OAG and El Paso County, we are able to provide the following services as an OAG community partner:

    • Local customer service on all child support accounts based upon OAG orders and private orders;
    • Child support account initiation at the State Disbursement Unit
    • Access facilitation and mediation services at no charge for OAG customers;
    • Automated child support monitoring and enforcement services for private orders signed on or after 3/1/2013; and
    • Probation services for OAG customers who have been placed on probation

    What are the differences between the services you offer and the services the OAG offers?

    The main differences are in the area of enforcement of court orders. The OAG can intercept tax returns, and access certain state and federal databases to help locate people. The DRO is a much smaller office, and tends to take a more personal approach. Plus, with every DRO case where an obligor is found in contempt for failure to pay child support, the obligor is placed on community supervision, and monitored by the DRO. This way, the obligee doesn't have to take any further action to make sure he or she gets the child support to which they're entitled. The assistant attorney general handling a particular case makes the decision about whether to use DRO supervision or not.

    The DRO does provide community supervision services in many OAG cases, but not in every case.

    The DRO also enforces visitation and out-of-pocket medical expenses, but the OAG does not. The DRO also enforces visitation and out-of-pocket medical expenses, but the OAG does not. The OAG website located at https://www.texasattorneygeneral.gov/cs. gives a more comprehensive view of the services they offer, as well as a lot of very useful information for parents about child support and parenting issues.

    Where should I send my payment?

    All child support must be paid through the Texas Child Support State Disbursement Unit, P.O. BOX 659791, San Antonio, Texas 78265-9791. A child support payments should be made out to the obligee ALWAYS put your case number on your check or money so you can get credit for your payment. Payments made directly to the custodial parent (either in cash or by direct deposit into a bank account) are considered gifts; only a judge can give you credit for direct payments.

    How can I verify a payment has been posted to my account?

    Call (915) 834-8257 to speak to a DRO child support specialist between 8:00 and 4:30, M-F. You will need your case number in order to access your account. We also have a payment history lookup on this web site. The clerks can give you information about your payment status.

    You can also check the Texas Attorney General’s interactive website at https://childsupport.oag.state.tx.us/wps/portal/csi or call for information at 1-800-252-8014.

    How long does it take to receive a payment from the State Disbursement Unit?

    When a child support payment is received by the State Disbursement Unit, it is generally sent to the custodial parent within 2-7 business days. For faster receipt, you can sign up for direct deposit (https://www.texasattorneygeneral.gov/cs/parents/directdeposit.shtml) or the Texas Debit Card (https://www.texasattorneygeneral.gov/cs/parents/debitcard.shtml)

    What should I do if I am changing jobs and my child support payments are being deducted from my paycheck?

    Child support MUST be taken out of your paycheck. You will need to have the "Withholding Order" re-issued to your new employer. You will either need to come by this office to fill out a request or you will need to download the form located at Application for preparation/issuance of administrative writ to withhold child support from income, fill it out and return it to this office.

    What should I do if I have moved to a new address?

    You will need to request an address change in writing. You can either deliver this request in person or you can fax it to our office at (915) 834-8299. You will need to show us a copy of your driver's license or other picture I.D. The form can be located at http://www.epcounty.com/dro/forms.htm

    Can I pay DRO fees and/or child support online?

    Yes, you may make a payment online, click on the following link:
    http://www.epcounty.com/dro/
    Click on “Online Pay” on the left hand side of the page.

    To pay child support online, click on the following link: Make a Child Support Payment and you will be sent to the Office of the Attorney General Interactive Child Support website.

    I have been ordered to attend parenting classes, do I need to attend both days, both classes?

    Parents need to attend both days, both classes.
    The educational classes offered for Access Facilitation and or Enforcement are the following;

    1. Cooperative Parenting Classes for a total of nine (9) hours, the class is divided in two to three sessions and all sessions must be attended
    2. Court Order Orientation Class is a one (1) hour educational class.

    For more information visit the following link for the web site at www.epcounty.com/DRO

    What should I bring to the classes?

    The classes are designed to offer families important legal information, educational tools, and new ideas. An open mind from class participants is always desired of attendees for the class

    What do I need bring to appointments with the social workers?

    The most recent court order and additional documentation such as

    - Completed questionnaires that were provided
    - Letters of References
    - Police Reports
    - Children’s Report Cards
    - Any additional documents which need to be reviewed and considered

    How do I report suspected Child Abuse and Neglect?

    - Call your local law enforcement agency
    - Call your local Child Protective Service Agency: In Texas (800) 252-5400

    How can I find out if there is a court hearing scheduled?

    You may call the County of El Paso’s District Clerk’s Office, at (915) 546-2021
    Click on the following link for more information:
    http://www.epcounty.com/districtclerk/

    To check for court cases on-line, Click on the following link at:
    http://casesearch.epcounty.com/PublicAccess/default.aspx

    Where can I get a copy of my court order?

    The County of El Paso’s District Clerk’s office can provide a certified copy of all court orders, the District Clerk’s Office is located on the first floor of the El Paso County Courthouse, Suite 103. The phone number is (915) 546-2021