If you pay child support, you should prepare to continue making payments until the order expires. That said, things can change over time. This is why Texas courts allow modification of child support orders. However, you should be ready to prove the basis for a change.
Under state laws, courts can modify a child support order in specific situations, including:
- If it has been at least three years since an order was created or last modified
- If there has been a significant change in circumstances
The first situation is self-explanatory. If you have had your current support order for at least three years, you can request that the courts reassess your case using support guidelines and determine whether to adjust payments based on current information.
The second situation can be more complicated. People experience changes in their lives, their jobs and their health. However, for these changes to provide the basis for a support modification, they must be material or substantial.
Events that can result in substantial changes
Some common examples of material changes include:
- Involuntary job loss and unemployment
- A sizable increase in either parent’s income
- Significant changes in a parent’s health
- A noncustodial parent becomes the custodial parent or other shifts in custody
- The paying parent has another child for whom he or she must pay support
- A significant increase in the amount of medical care a child requires
- Parental incarceration
- Changes in a child’s academic needs
These events reflect some common ways that parents and children change over time. And when these changes are substantial enough, they can render an existing support order unsuitable.
Modifying your order
Parents must understand that these events alone will not trigger a modification. Parents must either negotiate a new arrangement and have the courts approve it or go to court for a hearing.
In other words, there is a formal process to modify court orders. If you have an informal agreement in place or if you simply stop paying support, you could wind up facing enforcement actions.
To avoid the costly consequences of overpaying support or violating a court order, you can talk to your attorney about the legal remedies available.