You have a child but are no longer with the child’s other parent. Like many co-parents, you agreed to pay or receive a certain amount of child support, and a judge signed off on the child support agreement.
But situations in life can change over time. For example, you may receive a job promotion or get laid off. Or, you might welcome a new child with a new spouse. Or, sadly, you might suffer a medical issue that prevents you from returning to full-time work.
These – and other similar changes – can lead to modifications in child support obligations from the paying spouse to the other parent. But modifications are not automatic and require some action on your part before they can be made official in the state of Texas.
Learn more about how this process works, the most important steps to modify child support Texas residents should know, and why it’s best to work with a family law attorney to help your case.
When Child Support Orders Can Be Modified
A court will only consider a motion to modify child support in Texas under two conditions. First, a court will review your child support obligation if three or more years have passed since the last order was entered. Then, either party has the right to request a review of the original child support order.
Second, if you or the other parent have experienced a substantial and material change in your circumstances, either party can request a review of child support obligations.
If you satisfy either condition, you can advance to the next stage of selecting the best option for a modification of the child support order.
3 Options to Modify Child Support Texas Residents Can Consider
Requesting a review of your child support obligation is not as daunting of a task as it might appear. Whether you are paying or receiving child support, you have three paths to a modification.
1. Ask the Attorney General’s Office to Review Your Case
First, you can visit the Texas Office of the Attorney General’s website and request that your case be reviewed for a possible modification. The website will walk you through what information to provide, such as your existing child support order, income, and the other parent’s income.
When you modify child support in Texas through the attorney general’s office, you must support any alleged change in circumstances with documents. You’ll be able to upload documentation to support your argument.
For example, you might upload a termination letter or unemployment statement if you lost your job. Also, medical records can be uploaded to support a modification request due to a permanent disability or limiting condition.
Once you have submitted a request, the office will review the request and determine whether modifying the prior order is warranted. Each parent will be notified of any proposed changes. If you both agree, an order will be issued shortly after.
However, if either parent disagrees with the proposal, a court hearing will be scheduled, and a judge will determine whether to modify the order.
Keep in mind that the modification process through the Office of the Attorney General can take several months.
2. Request a Modification if More than Three Years Have Passed
If it has been more than three years since your most recent child support order was entered, you or the other parent can request a review of your case.
If this option applies to your situation, you and the other parent will both need to provide updated income information. Then, a court will consider whether the existing child support amount continues to be appropriate, given your income.
Just because a review is requested does not mean a modification will be entered. First, the official Texas child support guidelines will be consulted. Then, a modification will only be entered if a judge determines that there has been a substantial and material change in circumstances. If not, the child support amount will remain unchanged.
The key determination for whether the monthly child support amount should be increased or decreased is whether your situation satisfies a standard set by the law. Specifically, there must be a difference in monthly payment by either 20% or $100 from the child support guidelines.
3. Retain an Attorney if There Has Been a Change in Your Circumstances
Lastly, consider obtaining experienced legal help. If a life change has impacted your income and ability to pay the current child support amount, you could have good reason to modify the order.
A Texas family law attorney can help you pursue a modification and file a petition to modify the original order, especially if you have undergone a substantial change in circumstances.
An attorney experienced in handling child support modifications can bring your situation before the court instead of going through the Office of the Attorney General. Depending on the availability of the court, your motion to modify could be heard and resolved much faster.
Important Note: Do Not Stop Paying Child Support
If you owe child support to the other parent, you must continue to make payments. Seeking to modify your obligation does not mean you can stop paying court-ordered child support.
Your child support payments will continue at the previous amount until the court officially changes your obligation. Failing to pay your child support can lead to legal consequences and a past-due amount that will continue to increase.
A Skilled Child Support Lawyer in Texas Can Assist You
If you are looking to modify a child support order in Texas, you need an advocate on your side. Our attorneys at Parker & Aguilar are highly experienced with these types of cases.
We will take the time to understand your situation and work within the Texas family court system to pursue your goal of modification. Our experienced child support lawyers are ready to get to work on your behalf.
We currently support clients in Fort Bend County, Brazoria County, Galveston County, and Matagorda County. If you live in one of these counties, reach out to our offices to discuss your situation.
You can reach our offices at 979-267-7660 (Angleton office) or 281-944-5485 (Sugar Land office) to speak with one of our helpful attorneys. Do not hesitate to reach out to discuss your case and the keys to modify child support Texas residents need to know.