X

Thank you for sharing!

Your article was successfully shared with the contacts you provided.
Click here for the full text of this decision FACTS:Frank Novak and his wife were divorced in 1978, and he was ordered to pay $200 per month in child support. In 1989 the attorney general instituted child support enforcement proceedings. In November 1989 the trial court found that Novak owed $25,000 in back child support and ordered him to pay the arrearage plus 10 percent at the rate of $100 per month until child support terminated. Then, Novak’s arrearage payments were to increase to $300 per month. The trial court also ordered income withholding. After the attorney general filed a notice of termination of assignment, the trial court redirected all support payments to the mother. Copies of the withholding order were served on Novak’s employers in 1990 and 1995. Novak’s child turned eighteen on February 8, 1995. Withholding continued until 1997 and resumed again in 2002. Also in 2002, the attorney general redirected payments from the local child support registry to the state disbursement unit, and it issued a writ of withholding for $450 per month. Withholding under this writ continued until 2004. In 2004, the attorney general moved to confirm Novak’s arrears and reduce them to judgment. The trial court held a hearing and entered judgment against Novak, finding that he owed $54,253.05 in back child support. Novak raised four issues on appeal. He asserted that the trial court violated the statute of limitations and unconstitutionally applied Family Code amendments retroactively by including the unpaid portion of the 1989 arrearage judgment in its calculations. Novak also argued that interest was improperly calculated and that the trial court erroneously held that he could not raise laches as a defense. HOLDING:Affirmed. Novak argues that the judgment against him had become stale as of November 1999, based upon Texas Civil Practice & Remedies Code �34.001(a) providing that a judgment is dormant if a writ of execution is not issued within ten years of the rendition of the judgment. The attorney general counters that child support judgments never become dormant, because the Family Code authorizes withholding until all child support and child support arrearages have been paid, and that its collection efforts kept the judgment from becoming dormant. Child support was withheld from Novak’s paychecks from 1989 to 1997 and again for approximately two years beginning in 2002. The court holds that, because the 1989 arrearage judgment was enforced almost continually by wage withholding, it did not become dormant. “So long as an arrearage judgment is being paid with income withholding, there is no need for the State or the custodial parent to take any further action, and neither the judgment debtor nor his other creditors are likely to be misled about his obligation.” Because the 1989 child support arrearage judgment did not become stale, the court overrules Novak’s second issue arguing that subsequent amendments to the Family Code may not be applied retroactively to revive a dormant judgment. The court also concludes it was unnecessary to address Novak’s laches issue. Finally, the court considers Novak’s argument that the trial court improperly calculated interest because some of his payments were improperly classified as child support payments rather than arrearage payments. The original order required Novak to pay child support until his child turned eighteen, and he contended his payments from her birthday in February 1995 through the end of the school year should have been credited to his arrearage, and not child support. The court holds that because this issue was not presented to the trial court, it could not be raised for the first time on appeal. OPINION:Strange, J., Wright, C.J., and McCall and Strange, JJ.

Want to continue reading?
Become a Free ALM Digital Reader.

Benefits of a Digital Membership:

  • Free access to 3 articles* every 30 days
  • Access to the entire ALM network of websites
  • Unlimited access to the ALM suite of newsletters
  • Build custom alerts on any search topic of your choosing
  • Search by a wide range of topics

*May exclude premium content
Already have an account?

 
 

ALM Legal Publication Newsletters

Sign Up Today and Never Miss Another Story.

As part of your digital membership, you can sign up for an unlimited number of a wide range of complimentary newsletters. Visit your My Account page to make your selections. Get the timely legal news and critical analysis you cannot afford to miss. Tailored just for you. In your inbox. Every day.

Copyright © 2020 ALM Media Properties, LLC. All Rights Reserved.