YOU HAVE OPTIONS:
1. I am too scared to give information about the absent parent, because doing so may put me or my children in danger.
- Ask your HHSC eligibility advisor about GOOD CAUSE.
- Apply for child support and ask child support staff about placing a Family Violence Indicator on your case.
- After applying for your HHSC benefits, the OAG will contact you first by mail. It is very important to return all the requested information to the OAG by the given deadline. Not doing so could lead to you losing your HHSC benefits.
- Report family violence, or any safety concerns you have about the other parent, to the OAG after your case is opened. It is important to report family violence to the OAG, even if you have already reported it to your HHSC eligibility advisor or another government agency.
- Ask staff at the child support office that is handling your case about placing a Family Violence Indicator on your child support case.
- In order to receive a Family Violence Indicator on your case, all you need to do is inform the OAG about your safety concerns. The OAG will ask you to complete and submit an Affidavit of Nondisclosure, which is a form that documents your safety concerns. You could also provide a copy of your protective order against the other parent or any police or medical reports that could help document family violence (if any documentation exists).
- Once the Family Violence Indicator is on your case, your contact information, such as your physical address, will not be printed on court documents unless required by the law, and if the court agrees, your address will not be made available to the other parent. Your case will also be set for a court hearing, instead of a negotiation meeting with the other parent in the local child support office, when it is necessary to file a legal action with the court.
- Another resource to keep your address safe may be the Address Confidentiality Program (ACP). — ACP is administered by the OAG and provides eligible survivors with a substitute post office box and free mail forwarding to keep one’s actual physical address confidential.
2. I am uncomfortable sharing information about the absent parent because the pregnancy was a result of incest or rape.
- Ask your HHSC eligibility advisor about GOOD CAUSE. Good Cause waives the requirement to establish a child support order with the OAG, because the pregnancy was a result of rape or incest.
- Even if you receive a Good Cause waiver not to pursue child support, you will still have to give HHSC eligibility advisor information on the absent parent—or risk losing your HHSC benefits.
- You will be given 20 days to provide evidence to your HHSC eligibility advisor. Types of acceptable evidence may vary on a case by case basis, but can include a police report or birth certificate with the father’s name.
- There is a possibility for an extension of the 20 days, but that is up to the discretion of your HHSC eligibility advisor. You will be required to submit a formal, written, request before they are allowed to extend the 20 days.
- Based on the evidence you provide, your HHSC eligibility advisor will decide whether or not to recommend your case for good cause which allows you to continue to receive benefits without cooperating with the OAG.
- If your case is not recommended for good cause, you will be required to cooperate with the OAG in obtaining a child support order or risk losing your HHSC benefits.
3. I’m not sure who the absent parent is.
- You will need to give information on any possible parents.
- Paternity will need to be established.
- Even if you are not sure who is the father of your child, you will need to provide as much information about all possible fathers.
- If you do not have the name of, or any information about, the possible absent parent, you can put "unknown" for the absent parent.
- In order to put "unknown" for the absent parent, you will be required to swear that the information you are providing is true to the best of your knowledge. There can be legal consequences for providing false information to a government agency.
4. Paternity has not been established.
- Paternity will need to be established as part of opening a child support case and establishing a child support order. Click here for more information on genetic testing.
5. Paternity and/or a child support order have already been established.
- Paternity has been established and I have a child support order already.
- Inform your advisor that there is already a child support case open or that child support has been ordered already. You may need to provide evidence of the order, or proof of payments received to your HHSC eligibility advisor.
- Paternity has been established but I do not have a child support order.
- You will need to cooperate with the OAG in obtaining a child support order.