Overview of the IV-D Court
The IV-D Court, also known as child support court, functions primarily for child support cases. This was established by the Texas Legislature in response to the special requirement by the federal government to further expedite the judicial and administrative processes in resolving cases related to child support. Such cases are presided by the AUSTIN COUNTY IV-D COURT AND THE ASSOCIATE JUDGE Title IV-D Associate Judge.
The IV-D cases that are referred by the local judge to the associate judge, may be referred back by the latter for final disposition upon prescribing order recommendations. The IV-D associate judge may also sign and render orders that are not final on the merits of the case, and can make further recommendation on any order after trial. Moreover, a Tile IV-D associate judge may hear and impose orders on suits to clarify or amend existing child support orders, motions to enforce child support orders or revoke a respondent’s suspension of commitment, and motions for post-judgment relief such as new trials or judgment reform. Except for contempt or incarceration order, the recommended order by the IV-D judge shall be treated as the enforceable judgment of the referring court by law, in cases where the right or request to a de novo hearing (new or appellate trial) is waived or not timely filed.
About the Austin County Associate Judge
A Title IV-D associate judge must be residing in the participating state for at least two years, and be actively practicing law for at least four years in the same state, prior to appointment. Upon appointment of a full-time associate judge, he/she may not take private practice of law. An associate judge may also serve more than one court. The annual salary of associate judges are set by a majority vote by the presiding judges of the nine administrative judicial regions, and must not exceed 90 percent of that of the district judge as provided by the General Appropriations Act.
The current appointed associate judge for Austin County is Hon. Walter B. Williams. He is appointed under the Second Administrative Judicial Region of Texas, specifically for Title IV-D, Child Support Court #9. The the counties being served by Hon. Williams are Austin, Fort Bend, Matagorda, and Wharton. He earned his Juris Doctor degree from the University of Houston.
To assist district and county judges in various judicial duties, part-time or full-time associate judges are judicial officers appointed by their local judges. Aside from associate judges, other judicial officers appointed by local judges under the Texas Government Code (Chapter 54) are magistrates, masters, hearing officers, and referees. The court cases are not directly filed with these judicial officers, but are rather referred to them by the county or district judges according to the officers’ specified case fields according to the state law. Generally, the referred judicial officers would provide recommendations to the referring court, rather than delivering final orders.
Associate judges have differentiated duties and responsibilities, according to their assigned cases as prescribed by the Texas Family Code (Chapter 201). There are three types of associate judges, according to the Subchapters A, B, and C of Chapter 201. Subchapter A associate judges are authorized to hear cases under Titles 1 (Marriage Relationship), 4 (Protective Orderd and Family Violence), and 5 (Parent-Child Relationship). They are appointed by local judges, with consent from the county and commissioners court. While associate judges under Subchapters B and C are considered state employees under the Office of the Court Administration (OCA), and are appointed by the presiding judges of their respective administrative judicial regions. The cases heard by Subchapter B associate judges are primarily on child support, while Subchapter C focuses on hearing child protection cases. Associate judges appointed to hear child support cases are Title IV-D judges.
The Office of the Court Administration, where IV-D associate judges are considered state employees, is a judicial agency governed by the Supreme Court of Texas and the Chief Justice. It supervises associate judges in terms of monitoring their compliance with federal laws and state policies, providing for their training and resource needs, preparing annual performance evaluations, as well as handling related complaints. While administrative judicial regions, were established to oversee the covered counties of their respective regions. There are nine existing administrative judicial regions, each headed by a Governor-appointed presiding judge, who in turn appoints associate judges for the covered counties and districts.
In cases where the associate judge is temporarily unavailable to render his/her duties due to certain circumstances, the presiding judge of the administrative judicial region where the absentee associate judge serves, may appoint a visiting associate judge who would take over the Title IV-D cases and perform the same associate judge duties. The same temporary appointment for a visiting associate judge would also occur in instances where the associate judge position suddenly becomes vacant, until a new associate judge is rightly appointed.
Because the associate judge of Austin County is a Title IV-D associate judge, he only hears cases in a IV-D court. And because IV-D courts are primarily set up for hearing child support cases, civil cases such as credit card and breach of contract are filed and heard in justice or county courts, depending on the range of amount of controversy.
Please visit our website for more information about us and bankruptcy. Call us today at (713) 974-1151 to schedule a no-obligation consultation or feel free to email us at Consumerlaw@busby-lee.com Visit me on the web