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Understanding pass-through and disregard

Texas parents who are attempting to collect child support may need to understand the process known as pass-through and disregard. This federal law primarily affects families that are receiving or have received Temporary Assistance to Needy Families. How a state chooses to enforce the law may affect how much of the collected child support is disbursed to families that have also received TANF assistance.

The federal government gives states broad rights to determine how they will handle the pass-through laws. According to the law, states may choose to withhold some, all or none of the child support they collect as reimbursement for TANF services. The state has the right to withhold as much money as necessary to cover the costs associated with assistance in order to offset state costs. Alternatively, the state may choose to pass through all or a portion of the collected support to custodial parents in addition to allowing them to receive full TANF benefits for as long as they qualify.

State law may also balance TANF assistance with paid child support. The child support may be counted as income and factored into the determination for TANF assistance. It may also reduce the amount of TANF assistance collected dollar-for-dollar. A family that exits the TANF program may still have child support withheld if the support was in arrears while the family was in TANF. The state has the right to continue withholding until the arrears have been paid.

This law may have a major impact on the finances and expectations of custodial parents. The great flexibility of the law and the ability for states to alter their interpretation also means that how money is withheld or passed-through may change. A custodial parent receiving or considering enrollment in a TANF program may wish to consult with an attorney to determine how current Texas laws will impact their child support payments.

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