When parents get divorced, one of the parents is usually ordered to pay child support to the parent who lives with the children. Child support payments are intended to cover the child’s reasonable expenses and needs.
However, circumstances can always change, and the spouses may no longer feel that the ordered amount of child support is appropriate. For this reason, Texas law allows parents to modify child support when substantial changes occur.
If you are considering requesting child support modification, contact a Coryell County divorce lawyer to help you modify the current support order.
Can I Modify Child Support in Texas?
Yes, Texas Family Code allows either party to request a modification of child support when specific conditions are met. Contrary to popular belief, parents cannot modify a child support order without going to court. Even if they agree to change the current order, they should still get the judge’s approval to modify child support in Texas.
Will a Judge Approve My Request to Modify Child Support?
It depends on whether there are grounds for modification of child support in your specific case. Texas Family Code § 156.401 provides grounds for modifying child support:
- The circumstances of either parent or the child have materially and substantially changed since the original order; or
- Three years have passed since the original order was put in place, and the amount of support in the new order would differ from the original one by either $100 or 20%.
When reviewing your request to modify the original order, the judge will take the following steps:
- The judge will calculate the child support amount the obligor would pay based on their current income under the child support guidelines to see if there has been a material and substantial change in circumstances.
- The judge will use the child support guidelines to determine the appropriate amount the obligor would pay going forward.
- The judge will consider whether the proposed modification of child support would be in the child’s best interests.
How to Modify Child Support in Texas?
In order to change the current child support order, you must file a petition to modify the order in the county where the original order was issued. But what happens if your child has lived in another county or state?
- If your child has lived in another county in Texas for the past six months, you should still file a petition to modify in the county where the original order was issued. However, if you want to pursue a modification case in the new county where the child resides, your lawyer can help you transfer your case from one state to another.
- If your child has lived in another state for the past six months, it is advisable to consult with a child support attorney to find out where to file a petition in your specific situation.
How Often Can I Modify Child Support in Texas?
You can modify child support in Texas as many times as you want as long as you have grounds to request a modification. As mentioned earlier, you can file a modification case in Texas when any of the following is true:
- Three years. The original support order was made more than three years ago.
- A material or substantial change in circumstances. A material or substantial change in circumstances has occurred since the last support order was put in place.
How Much Does It Cost to Request a Modification?
When filing a petition to modify child support, you will pay the filing fee. If the other parent is served, you will also pay a service fee. Filing fees vary from one county to another. In Coryell County, you need to pay $51 to file a Motion to Modify.
What is Considered a Material and Substantial Change in Circumstances?
Generally, Texas courts grant the petitioner’s motion to modify child support on the basis of a “material and substantial change in circumstances” when any of the following has occurred:
- The parent who was ordered to pay child support (the obligor) lost his/her job or had their income increased/decreased;
- The obligor had a new baby since the support order was put in place;
- The obligor has received a financial windfall; or
- The child’s needs or living arrangements have changed.
What counts as a material and substantial change in circumstances is a fact-specific issue, which is why it is advisable to talk to a divorce attorney to determine if you have grounds to modify child support in your specific situation.
The burden of proof to establish a material and substantial change in circumstances is on the petitioner (the parent seeking to modify the support order). In many cases, parents need to attend a hearing or trial to determine whether there has been a substantial change in circumstances.
Can I Modify Back Child Support?
Contrary to popular belief, modification of child support is never retroactive in Texas. It means that if you were behind on child support payments before the modification was approved, you would still have to pay the past-due support amount.
For example, if you lose your job in May but your motion to modify child support is not approved until August, you will still have to pay the amount ordered in the original order for May, June, July, and probably even August.
It is vital to contact a family law attorney as soon as you experience a substantial change in circumstances. Your attorney will help you take proactive steps to file a modification case and modify your child support order in a timely manner.
You should have a responsive and experienced attorney on your side to help you request a modification of child support on your behalf.
Speak with a Coryell County Divorce Lawyer Today
If you believe that you have grounds to modify the current child support order, do not hesitate to contact a Coryell County divorce lawyer at The Law Office of Brett H. Pritchard to discuss your options. Call (254) 220-4225 to receive a consultation right away.