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Rules of Statutory Construction Compel that §157.005(b) Does Not Apply to Liens, Levies and Writs of Income Withholding.

The Supreme Court held in Grapevine Excavation v. Lloyds, 35 S.W.3d 1, 5 (Tex. 2000), “it is a firmly established statutory construction rule that once appellate courts construe a statute and the legislature reenacts that statute without substantial change, we presume that the Legislature has adopted the judicial interpretation.” The Legislature is presumed to know of the holdings of the Supreme Court in A.D., 73 S.W.3d at 246, 247, and the courts of appeals in In Re Digges, 981 S.W.2d at 446, and In Re Cannon, 993 S.W.2d at 356, after the courts issue their rulings.

At the time of this statutory enactment to §157.005(b), it was three years after the Supreme Court had ruled in A.D. that the provisions of §157.005(b) do not apply as time limits for any other remedy for collection of child support including writs of income withholding. It was six years after Justice Paul Green (now Supreme Court Justice) in Cannon ruled that the time limits in §157.005(b) do not apply to any other remedies including writs of income withholding.  A.D., Cannon and Digges held the remedies were separate and independent and each have their own time periods applicable to them.

There is not one word in the amendment to §157.005(b) that makes its time periods applicable to any other remedy. If the Legislature had wanted to change the express holdings in A.D., Cannon and Digges, it would have expressly been required to state that the time periods in §157.005(b) were applicable to other remedies of writs, liens and levies. This, it expressly did not do. Absent express language in the statutes and subchapters to the contrary it must be presumed that the holdings in A.D., Cannon and Digges remain controlling and the time periods in §157.005(b) do not apply to any other remedies. Additionally, the Legislature in 2009 adopted a clarifying amendment to §157.005(b). The amendment states the time periods in §157.005(b) only apply to cumulative judgments. Act of May 28, 2009, 81st Leg., R.S., S.B. No. 865, §13 (to be codified as an amendment to Tex. Fam. Code §157.005(b)).

There is simply no published opinion in the State of Texas that establishes a vested right to not make payments that have been ordered. The legislature has seen fit to make it the public policy of Texas that an obligor who has not paid and has not complied with a prior court order will be subject under Texas laws to enforcement and collection by a cumulative judgment and/or a writ of income withholding garnishing his wages until “all arrearages, including interest have been paid”. That public policy is a compelling public policy.

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