Child support is one of the biggest issues we deal with at a family law firm. It’s an important element in helping parents take care of their children following divorce, and it can be extremely stressful due to a number of factors, including navigating the Office of the Attorney General’s rules and communication systems.
Sometimes, in dealing with child support issues, involving a family lawyer can make all the difference – as we’ve been around the block quite a few times, and we’ve encountered aspects of the child support system in Texas that might surprise people who are new to that world. But we’re reminded that changes to laws can throw whole new wrinkles into even what we’re used to, and there’s a fascinating example of that possibly coming soon to Missouri.
Fox News recently did a story about a proposal for a new law that would make drunk drivers responsible for the surviving children of parents they’ve killed in accidents.
According to the story, “Cecilia Williams is urging legislators to support a proposed new law she’s named ‘Bentley’s Law’ after her 5-year old grandson. She began working on the new legislation that targets drunk drivers after an accident in April claiming the lives of her son Cordell Williams, 30; his fiance 25-year-old Lacey Newton; and their 4-month-old son, Cordell Shawn Michael Williams.”
Williams was left to care for the two other children left behind in the tragic accident, and determined that the person responsible for Bentley’s death and their parents’ deaths should bear some responsibility financially providing for the surviving kids. Hence, the proposed law, which would “require drunk drivers who cause the death of a parent or parents to pay child support to a surviving spouse or the relatives raising the victim’s children until the children turn 18 years old.”
Williams has the support of a legislator planning to introduce it in the state’s next legislative session, though it’s not clear what would happen if the law is passed. The biggest question we have right off the bat is how a person who would ostensibly be serving jail time for causing a fatal drunk driving accident be able to pay child support. We’re also curious as to what happens should a convicted drunk driver win an appeal negating those charges — would the child support then have to be paid back to the person wrongfully convicted?
The story noted that the proposed law would be designed as an additional deterrent against drunk driving, and it’s understandable in the light of the Williams family tragedy that Cecilia Williams would be advocating for such a measure. But, as with a number of elements of family law, the intended effect of passing a law may also come with some unforeseen consequences that affect people in unexpected ways.
This is a proposal we’ll definitely keep an eye on out of curiosity — knowing Texas the way we do, we wouldn’t be surprised if a similar effort happens in our state before too much longer.