Can I Request a Change to My Child Support Order?
When the courts issue child support orders, they do so with the intention that the order will serve the child’s best interests in the long term. However, a child’s needs may change over time, or a parent’s financial situation may alter. When this happens, the original child support order may no longer be sufficient or appropriate.
If you or your child’s situation has significantly changed, you may have grounds to seek a child support modification from the Texas Family Court.
Eligibility Requirements for a Child Support Modification in Texas
To have a child support order modified in Texas, you will need to submit an official Request for Review of the original or current child support order. To be eligible for a modification, it must have been three or more years since the existing order was issued or since you last modified it. Additionally, the amount of child support currently ordered must deviate by either 20% or $100 compared to the amount that would be awarded today according to child support guidelines.
Alternatively, if there has been a “material and substantial change” in you or your child’s circumstances since the last order was issued, you may be eligible for a modification based on that change alone.
Defining a Material & Substantial Change in Context with Child Support Modifications
Understanding the requirement that there has been a “material and substantial” change can be difficult as this feels like a subjective requirement. For example, what may seem substantial to one person perhaps appears less to another. However, in the context of child support modifications, a material and substantial change is understood in context with a child’s needs and the parent’s ability to support the child financially.
Examples of material and substantial changes that may be grounds for a support modification:
- A parent’s income has decreased or increased
- A parent has a new child or dependent
- The child has had a change in their medical insurance coverage
- The child’s needs have significantly changed
- The child is now living with a different parent
Before you petition the courts for a child support modification, it is recommended that you consult with an experienced attorney like ours at the Law Firm of Johnson & Gaskill PLLC. A skilled attorney familiar with handling child support cases in Texas will help you determine if you have grounds for a modification and can help you determine if requesting a change is your best option.
What About Enforcement?
When a parent ordered to pay child support does not comply with the court order, the other parent may seek enforcement through the courts. If the court deems enforcement necessary, a judge can use several methods to enforce the child support order in question.
Potential enforcement methods:
- Property and asset liens
- Intercepting tax refunds
- Wage garnishment
- Driver’s license suspensions
Enforcement is always taken seriously and is typically seen as a last resort. Before requesting court enforcement, you should consult with your attorney about the matter. With the help of an attorney, you can explore all your options before moving forward with enforcement. For example, in some situations, requesting a modification may be more appropriate and may help preserve the co-parenting relationship.
To learn more about child support enforcement, review our blog.
If You Are Struggling to Make Child Support Payments, Consult an Attorney
Because court-ordered child support is legally binding, failure to make child support payments can have serious consequences. Additionally, you will still have to make up missed payments and likely pay penalties and/or interest. We understand that getting behind in child support can be scary and overwhelming. However, if you are struggling to make child support payments or worry that you will not be able to make a payment, you should speak with an attorney right away.
At the Law Firm of Johnson & Gaskill PLLC, we have helped many families deal with difficult child custody situations, including requesting modifications and enforcement. Our team takes a compassionate approach to all family law matters, and we can help you resolve your issue. Send us a message online to schedule a consultation.