Edna Telles
Interim 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

  • First Time 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.
  • –The State of Texas´ Family Code promotes that families support their children to have frequent and continuing contact with parents after separation and divorce in order to diminish the amount of disruption or change experienced by children. 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, 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. 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
  • Family Law Acronyms
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  • 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)
  • FCS – Family Court Services (a division within the DRO)
  • Frequently Asked Questions - FAQ's
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  • - How can I start receiving child support?
  • - What is child support?
  • - How do you calculate how much child support a person owes?
  • - Once I have the court order, what is next?
  • - Can the court order the Obligor to pay child support after my child is 18 years of age?
  • - I already have a court order for child support, but the obligor isn't paying. What can I do?
  • - My ex has custody of our children, and has remarried. Do I still have 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?
  • - Is a child eligible for child support if he or she is also receiving monthly welfare assistance from the Texas Department of Human Services?
  • - My order says I'm supposed to get reimbursed for the cost of health insurance for my child. Does that payment go through the DRO too?
  • - My divorce decree says to pay the child support through the DRO, but my ex wants me to pay it directly to her. Is that a problem?
  • - 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?
  • - What is the "State Disbursement Unit (SDU)?"
  • - What if I have a case with the Attorney General?
  • - Wait - is the DRO different from the Attorney General? I thought they were the same, since they both handle child support.
  • - So, what are the differences between the services you offer and the services the OAG offers?
  • - I received a notice from a child support office in another state, saying I needed to start sending payments through them now instead of through the DRO. What do I need to do?
  • - Where should I send my payment?
  • - How can I verify a payment has been posted to my account?
  • - How long does it take to receive a payment from the Domestic Relations Office?
  • - What happens if I write a hot check to the Domestic Relations Office?
  • - What can be done if I RECEIVE a hot check for my child support payment?
  • - What should I do if I received a child support check that does not belong to me?
  • - What should I do if I am changing jobs and my child support payments are being deducted from my paycheck?
  • - What should I do if I have moved to a new address?
  • - Can I make a payment online?
  • - Classes, do I need to attend both days, both classes?
  • - What to bring to the classes?
  • - What to bring to appointments?
  • - Suspected Child Abuse and Neglect, How to report?
  • - How can I find out if there is a court hearing scheduled?
  • - Where can I get a copy of the court order?
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  • Q: How can I start receiving child support?
  • A: You must have a court order - like a decree of divorce, a decree of paternity, or a modification order, before you will be entitled to receive child support. This is true whether or not you are married to your child's other parent. If you already have an El Paso County court order but you are not receiving your child support, you can apply for Enforcement Services with the Domestic Relations Office.
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  • Q: What is child support?
  • A: The most important thing to look for in deciding what is child support is the language in the court order. The most common type of child support is in the form of monthly payments from the non-custodial parent (Obligor) to the custodial parent (Obligee). However, Texas law requires that an Obligor provide medical support for his/her children as well, either by obtaining health insurance for the children themselves or by reimbursing the Obligee for the cost of covering the children on the Obligee's health insurance. 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.
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  • Q: How do you calculate how much child support a person owes?
  • A: 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 net income is too complex to be explained fully here. For a thorough explanation of how to calculate child support under Texas Law, you may attend the Child Support class offered by the Family Law Information Center.
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  • Q: Once I have the court order, what is next?
  • A: If you already have a court order for child support, the child support can be garnished ("withheld") from the paycheck of the person ordered to pay child support ("Obligor"). For more detailed information on withholding orders, please refer to the Withholding/Garnishment section of this website. If the obligor has already missed court-ordered child support payments, you may apply for enforcement services through the DRO.
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  • Q: Can the court order the Obligor to pay child support after my child is 18 years of age?
  • A: Again, you must look to the specifics of your court order. 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).
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  • Q: I already have a court order for child support, but the obligor isn't paying. What can I do?
  • A: 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), judgments for arrears, license suspensions, child support liens, and reporting to credit agencies.
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  • Q: My ex has custody of our children, and has remarried. Do I still have to pay child support?
  • A: Yes, the marital status of the custodial parent does not affect the obligation to pay child support.
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  • Q: The court order says I have to pay child support, but my child lives with me now. Do I still have to pay support?
  • A: Yes, although the fact that your child was living with you might be a defense if the other parent tried to enforce the child support order. 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.
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  • Q: Is a child eligible for child support if he or she is also receiving monthly welfare assistance from the Texas Department of Human Services?
  • A: 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. However, when a parent applies for welfare benefits for a child, that parent is usually required to "assign" (or give) their right to receive child support for that child to the State of Texas. This does not mean that that parent will never receive child support from the other parent, but the state does sometimes keep portions of child support payments to reimburse the state for benefits that were paid. Child support in public assistance cases is handled by the Office of the Attorney General. For more detailed information you may wish to attend the Child Support class offered by the Family Law Information Center, or contact the Office of the Attorney General at (915) 772-0385 or at www.oag.state.tx.us.
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  • Q: My order says I'm supposed to get reimbursed for the cost of health insurance for my child. Does that payment go through the DRO too?
  • A: 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 DRO (or 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.
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  • Q: My divorce decree says to pay the child support through the DRO, but my ex wants me to pay it directly to her. Is that a problem?
  • A: 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 our office, we assume the obligor is behind in the child support payments, and we may file a lawsuit, and BOTH parents will have to come to court. Furthermore, when payments are made directly, problems often arise years down the road because 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 a child support agency.
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  • Q: 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?
  • A: 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.
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  • Q: What is the "State Disbursement Unit (SDU)?"
  • A: 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, but just because your payments are processed through the SDU does not necessarily mean you have a case open with the Attorney General. The rules regarding where payments should be made can be complicated and confusing. 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 automated system is available 24 hours a day (546-2159) and our clerks are available to answer more complicated questions during our regular business hours, 8:00 a.m. - 4:40 p.m., Monday - Friday.
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  • Q: What if I have a case with the Attorney General?
  • A: If you have an open case with the Texas Attorney General ’s Office, we can provide you with payment information, or: You can get that information from the Attorney General's Interactive Child Support web site, or by calling 1(800) 252-8014 for the automated system or the El Paso area call center at (915) 855-3540 if you live in East El Paso, or (915) 772-1115 if you live in Central or West El Paso. 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.
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  • Q: Wait - is the DRO different from the Attorney General? I thought they were the same, since they both handle child support.
  • A: No, the DRO is a county office, handling only cases in El Paso County, while the OAG (Office of the Attorney General) is a state office. The OAG is the official state child support agency, (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. All states have a state child support office, but Texas's system of local child support offices is unusual.
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  • Q: So, what are the differences between the services you offer and the services the OAG offers?
  • A: With respect to the processing of child support payments, there is very little difference. 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 DRO does provide community supervision services in many OAG cases, but not in every case. Also, where it says on the 12th line: The DRO also enforces visitation and out-of-pocket medical expenses, but the OAG does not. The assistant attorney general handling a particular case makes the decision about whether to use DRO supervision or not. The DRO also enforces visitation and out-of-pocket medical expenses, but the OAG does not. The OAG website gives a more comprehensive view of the services they offer, as well as a lot of very useful information for parents about child support issues.
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  • Q: I received a notice from a child support office in another state, saying I needed to start sending payments through them now instead of through the DRO. What do I need to do?
  • A: Unfortunately, there is a great deal of confusion and misunderstanding in other states about how payments are processed in Texas. Usually, the agencies in other states assume that the DRO is the Texas state child support agency, and they think we have to power to order someone to make payments to a different office or state agency. The truth is, we process payments when the El Paso court order says the payment is supposed to be processed by us, and stop processing them when the court says to stop. We don't have the power to "close" a case, or tell an obligor to send payments elsewhere. You may want to try contacting the other state's agency and explaining this, or ask them to contact us directly.
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  • Q: Where should I send my payment?
  • A: 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.
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  • Q: How can I verify a payment has been posted to my account?
  • A: Call (915) 546-2159. This is our 24 hour IVRS (Interactive Voice Response System). During office hours our child support clerks will randomly intercept these calls for quality assurance purposes. 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 payments made through either this office or the SDU, and you will be able to get that information from the automated line and website soon.
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  • Q: How long does it take to receive a payment from the Domestic Relations Office?
  • A: When a child support payment is received by the Domestic Relations Office the payment is posted (i.e., logged into our computer system) and mailed out that same day. NOTE: During heavy mail days, we may be delayed until the next business day.
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  • Q: What happens if I write a hot check to the Domestic Relations Office?
  • A: If the check is made out to the Domestic Relations Office, we will start hot check collection efforts with the El Paso County Attorney's Office, which may lead to criminal charges. If the check is made out to the obligee, he or she may also pursue charges through the County Attorneys' Office, and the obligor may be found in contempt of court for non-payment of child support.
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  • Q: What can be done if I RECEIVE a hot check for my child support payment?
  • A: You may either report the hot check to the County Attorney's Office Hot Check Division or come to the DRO for enforcement of the child support order, or both.
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  • Q: What should I do if I received a child support check that does not belong to me?
  • A: If you receive a child support payment that does not belong to you, call our child support hotline immediately at (915) 834-8257 and return the check. We will work to solve the problem as quickly as possible.
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  • Q: What should I do if I am changing jobs and my child support payments are being deducted from my paycheck?
  • A: When child support payments are being taken out of your paycheck by your employer, that is called "withholding. 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, fill it out and return it to this office. NOTE: There is a $30.00 fee.
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  • Q: What should I do if I have moved to a new address?
  • A: 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.
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  • Q: Can I make a payment online?
  • A: 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
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  • Q: Classes, do I need to attend both days, both classes?
  • A: 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
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  • Q: What to bring to the classes?
  • A: - 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
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  • Q: What to bring to appointments?
  • A: 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
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  • Q: Suspected Child Abuse and Neglect, How to report?
  • A: - Call your local law enforcement agency
  • - Call your local Child Protective Service Agency: In Texas (800) 252-5400
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  • Q: How can I find out if there is a court hearing scheduled?
  • A: - 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/
  • o check for court cases on-line, Click on the following link at:
    http://casesearch.epcounty.com/PublicAccess/default.aspx
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  • Q: Where can I get a copy of the court order?
  • A: 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
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