Child support is an important part of ensuring your child’s well-being and financial security. While you certainly want to do what’s best for your child, you may find that the amount of monthly support can become outdated or out-of-sync with your current financial situation.
If this happens, you may be able to modify the amount of child support through the legal system in Texas. A modification of child support is not something you can just decide to do on your own; you must go through a structured process to make a case for why the amount should be changed. Here’s how to file a petition to modify child support in Texas.
Make Sure Your Circumstances Warrant a Modification
Before you begin the process, you should have a solid understanding of the qualification requirements for filing a petition to modify child support. In Texas, you must demonstrate that there has been a “material and substantial change in circumstances” since the last court order to be eligible for a modification.
A “material and substantial change” can include the following:
- A substantial decrease or increase in income.
- Job loss.
- Additional dependents to provide for.
- Changes in the child’s medical insurance coverage.
- Changes in the amount of time the child spends with each parent.
- Other substantial issues pertaining to your situation.
Note that these changes must be significant enough to warrant a change in the amount of child support that is being paid. It’s unlikely the court will consider your case if the change is minor or temporary.
Determine Which Method You’ll Choose
Texas offers two ways to modify child support: independently through the local court system or through the Texas Attorney General’s Office. Depending on the nature of your change, you may find that one method is more appropriate for your needs than the other.
Be sure to research each option carefully to make the best decision for yourself and your child. Both options involve filing paperwork, attending hearings, and waiting for a formal decision to be made. So, we encourage you to double-check that your situation makes it worth going through the review process.
Option 1: Request a Modification Review With the Attorney General’s Office
If you believe that your situation qualifies for a modification of your court-ordered child support amount, you can begin your case by submitting a Request for Review with the Texas Attorney General’s Office. This can be done online.
As you complete the request, you will be asked to provide information about your current circumstances, such as your income, employment status, and the number of children you’re providing for. You will also be asked to upload supporting documents such as recent tax returns and pay stubs.
After you have submitted your request, you can expect to wait a maximum of 30 days for the Attorney General’s Office to reach out to you. During this time, the office will verify your information, which may involve reaching out to your employer or other relevant parties. They may also ask you to provide additional documents or information.
Once the office has all the information it needs, the modification review process will begin. A child support review specialist will look over the following:
- Your prior child support orders.
- The amount of support you are requesting.
- Any relevant changes in your circumstances.
You will then be notified whether your review has been approved or not approved. If approved, the Attorney General’s Office will schedule a negotiation appointment. If not approved, you have the right to contest the decision and request another review.
The review process appointment will then be scheduled. This step includes a formal negotiation where your new order will be drafted. The Attorney General’s Office will work with you and your child’s other parent to write a new court order, which a judge will then sign.
If the parties can’t come to an agreement during the negotiation, a court date will be scheduled for a judge to hear both sides of the case and render a decision before signing the new order.
Option 2: File a Petition Through the Local Court System
Alternatively, if you choose to modify your court-ordered child support through the local court system, you will need to file a Petition for Modification of Child Support. This petition should be filed in the court where your original child support order was issued.
The petition will describe the current situation and explain why a modification is necessary. You must also provide proof of income, including recent tax returns and pay stubs, as well as any other evidence that supports your request for modification.
This process is different than going through the Attorney General’s Office, as you will not be required to go through a review process. Once your petition is filed and accepted, the court will send out a summons for both parties to attend a hearing. At this hearing, a judge will look at all of the evidence and make a decision regarding the amount of support that should be paid.
Once the judge has reached a decision, he or she will sign an order that modifies your existing child support arrangements. This new order will be legally binding and must be followed by both parties.
Consult an Attorney to File a Petition to Modify Child Support
When considering modifying your child support payments, it’s best to consult an experienced family law attorney to walk you through the process. Whether you choose to go through the Attorney General’s office or the local court system, it’s best to have a knowledgeable attorney in your corner.
When you hire Parker & Aguilar, we’ll help you understand whether you qualify for a modification, determine which course of action is right for you, and guide you through the process. We can help with filing a petition, gathering evidence, and arguing for a modification on your behalf in court.
We currently support parents in the South Texas counties of Fort Bend, Brazoria, Galveston, and Matagorda. If you live in one of these counties, contact us today to discuss your child support 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 attorneys. We look forward to helping you file a petition to modify child support.