child eating pizzaChild support is ordered to be paid by Texas judges in terms of monetary support. In my 25 years of practicing family law, I have never seen a judge approve a court order for payment of child support in some manner other than cash money.

But, then I saw this article (Italian court rules divorced chef can pay child support in pizza) that made me think outside-the-box about creative alternatives for payment of child support that will still support the child, yet not involve an exchange of cash.

A chef in Italy was ordered to pay about $335 in monthly child support to his ex-wife. But, his business suffered a major financial set back, making cash payments difficult for him. So, he offered the same form of compensation in food from his business. Pizza, calzones, and other menu items were included in the deal. The ex-wife at first refused to accept the food as tender for child support, so the parties went in front of a judge in a contested hearing. The Judge ordered that, in light of Italy’s financial crises in 2008, he could remit payment of child support in the form of food. Unfortunately, the chef had to close his business in 2010 and could no longer pay in food. But the story ends happily because in 2011, the daughter moved in with the father full-time.

The reality is that supporting a child requires cash. Electric companies, mortgages, car payments, and retail clothing businesses all require cash money in exchange for their goods and services. They won’t accept pizza as currency. But, this gives food (pun intended!) for thought about creative solutions in the right set of circumstances for providing child support when cash isn’t available.

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Photo of Michelle O'Neil Michelle O'Neil

Michelle May O’Neil has 27 years’ experience representing small business owners, professionals, and individuals in litigation related to family law matters such as divorce, child custody, and complex property division. Described by one lawyer as “a lethal combination of sweet-and-salty”, Ms. O’Neil exudes…

Michelle May O’Neil has 27 years’ experience representing small business owners, professionals, and individuals in litigation related to family law matters such as divorce, child custody, and complex property division. Described by one lawyer as “a lethal combination of sweet-and-salty”, Ms. O’Neil exudes genuine compassion for her client’s difficulties, yet she can be relentless when in pursuit of a client’s goals. One judge said of Ms. O’Neil, “She cannot be out-gunned, out-briefed, or out-lawyered!”

Family Law Specialist

Ms. O’Neil became a board-certified family law specialist by the Texas Board of Legal Specialization in 1997 and has maintained her certification since that time. While representing clients in litigation before the trial court is an important part of her practice, Ms. O’Neil also handles appellate matters in the trial court, courts of appeals and Texas Supreme Court. Lawyers frequently consult with Ms. O’Neil on their litigation cases about specialized legal issues requiring particularized attention both at the trial court and appellate levels. This gives her a unique perspective and depth of perception that benefits both her litigation and appellate clients.

Top Lawyers in Texas and America

Ms. O’Neil has been named to the list of Texas SuperLawyers for many years, 2011-2018, a peer-voted honor given to only about 5% of the lawyers in the state of Texas. In 2014-2018, Ms. O’Neil received the special honor of being named by Texas SuperLawyers as one of the Top 50 Women Lawyers in Texas, Top 100 Lawyers in Texas, and Top 100 Lawyers in DFW. She was named one of the Best Lawyers in America for 2016 and received an “A-V” peer review rating by Martindale-Hubbell Legal Directories for the highest quality legal ability and ethical standards.

Author and Speaker

A noted author, Ms. O’Neil released her second book Basics of Texas Divorce Law in November 2010, with a second edition released in 2013, and a third edition expected in 2015.  Her first book, All About Texas Law and Kids, was published in September 2009 by Texas Lawyer Press. In 2012, Ms. O’Neil co-authored the booklets What You Need To Know About Common Law Marriage In Texas and Social Study Evaluations.  The State Bar of Texas and other providers of continuing education for attorneys frequently enlist Ms. O’Neil to provide instruction to attorneys on topics of her expertise in the family law arena.