Houston Child Support Modification Lawyers
Once a child support agreement has been finalized, it becomes legally binding. Sometimes, however, payments become unfair or un-viable due to a change in circumstances. It is, therefore, possible to modify an order. It is a complex process though, and we highly recommend that you should seek guidance from a child support lawyer who can streamline and simplify the process.
If you are a noncustodial parent paying child support and you are no longer able to meet payments due to changing financial circumstances, then it is essential you seek a modification. Failure or refusal to pay child support payments could result in criminal penalties. If you are a custodial parent and need an increase in child support due to changing needs, you may also be able to justify a modification. Child support modification is also possible after three years if current legislation results in an increase or decrease in payments. Whatever your circumstances, the Houston child support lawyers at Skillern Firm have the skills, experience, and resources necessary to protect your interests.
Contact Skillern Firm
Skillern Firm is committed to family law, and our highly personalized approach means that we take the time to get to know you and will fight tirelessly to secure the best possible outcome. Our approach to the attorney-client relationship is unparalleled, and we are as equally skilled around the negotiation table as we are in the courtroom, which enables us to handle even the most complex cases. Speak to one of our child support attorneys today at (936) 213-8479.
What Happens if One Parent Fails To Pay Child Support?
If you can no longer afford to pay your child support, it is essential that you seek a modification quickly. Missing child support payments regularly can have serious consequences, including:
Money being legally withheld from your paycheck.
The seizing of property.
Denial of your passport.
Withholding of tax refunds.
Suspension of driver’s license or other professional licenses.
Fines of up to $500 for each nonpayment.
A jail sentence for up to six months for contempt of court.
What Can Be Changed After a Divorce Decree Is Finalized?
Even though a divorce decree is legally binding, it can be modified. Child support, spousal support, child custody, and visitation modifications are all possible if you can evidence why they are necessary. Houston modification lawyers can help you seek the changes you want and will know how to evidence your claims so that a Judge is likely to accept your request. It is never advisable to seek to navigate this process without the help of an experienced family law attorney as failure to follow proper procedure can seriously negatively impact your chances of obtaining a favorable outcome.
Who Can Request a Divorce Decree Modification?
Either parent can file a petition for modification with the court, or both parents may complete it jointly. Certain other parties can file a petition for modification, including someone who has been caring for the child for at least six months and in some cases, other blood relatives. If you are unsure as to whether you can apply for a child support modification, then you should seek advice from one of our Houston modification attorneys.
Justifications For Modifying Child Support Payments in Texas
In accordance with the Texas Family Code, grounds for modification of child support can include:
The circumstances of a person named in the order have materially and substantially changed.
It has been three years since the existing order, and the amount of child support that would now be awarded under current guidelines differs by either 20% or $100.
What Constitutes Material and Substantial Change in Texas?
Child support modifications that are requested within three years usually require you to evidence material and substantial change. The Texas Family Code does not define this phrase, so it’s up to interpretation by the Judge. However, some common examples include.
Loss of job or change of income.
Changing needs of the child such as illness.
Changes to the child’s living arrangements.
How Does the Court Determine Child Support Payments in Houston, Texas?
To determine whether the court will accept a modification to child support obligations, it is helpful to understand child support guidelines in Texas. To determine child support orders, courts will look at the non-custodial parent’s income to determine what is a fair amount to pay. They will consider your wages, tips, and commissions. Other factors can also play a role, such as whether the child has medical needs or attends a private school. Usually, the custodial parent will not need to pay child support because it is designed to equal the costs of meeting the child’s needs.
When Can I Modify a Child Custody Order in Houston, TX?
Child custody orders can also be modified to increase child visitation to the primary caregiver or to change the custody arrangement. The main consideration in child custody arrangements is the best interests of the child. This means that it can be changed at any time, so long as one of the following circumstances exist:
The child is 12 years or older and wishes to change their primary caregiver.
There has been a material or substantial change in the circumstances of someone involved in the custody order.
Someone else has been the child’s primary caregiver for a minimum of 6 months.
Do Both Parents Need to Agree to The Modification in Houston, Texas?
While it is usually easier for a modification to be made if both parents are in agreement, it is not always necessary for both parents to agree to a modification in Texas. Under the right circumstances modifications can be made by the court. The conditions for this to take place, and the burden of proof necessary vary widely depending upon the individual circumstances.
A modification may be easier to obtain if both parents agree, and documents can be submitted jointly to the court. At Skillern Firm, our skilled mediators can help you, and your ex-spouse figures out an arrangement that works for everyone involved, and one which the court is likely to accept. The modification must usually be filed in the same court where the child support order was originally issued, and you will need to attend a hearing. If the Judge approves it then you can sign the order with the clerk to finalize your modification.
If parents cannot agree, or you are unable to approach your spouse with a potential modification, then you can still apply for a modification on your own. Your attorney can help you evidence why your changes are necessary. A contested modification usually takes longer, and the court may want to see that you have at least tried to agree with your ex-spouse, this is one of the areas where a Houston child support modification lawyer can become invaluable.
If you apply for a modification on your own, then the other party will be served modification papers, and be given 20 days to respond. If they do not respond, and the Judge agrees to your changes then the modification could be approved by default.
Q: How do the courts determine payment amounts?
A: The court will usually look at the income of the non-custodial parent to determine child custody payments. They may also consider the child’s needs including medical and educational needs.
Q: Who has to pay child support?
A: In Texas, both parents are required to financially contribute to the upbringing of their children. This usually means that whoever does not have primary custody will need to pay child support.
Q: What happens if I lose my job?
A: If you have lost your job, or you have a new job that pays less, then it is possible to change your support order to match your current income. You will need to act quickly so that you do not miss payments, which could result in serious consequences. When determining a new child support value, the court may consider your past employment, and your ability to work and earn. It is also possible that your child support will be taken from your unemployment benefits.
Q: What if my employer can no longer provide medical insurance for my children?
A: If you were ordered to carry medical insurance for your children and are no longer able to do so, then you should seek a modification. You may be required to find private insurance for them, and your order could be modified to reflect this.
Q: How long will it take for the child support value to change?
A: There is no average timeline for modifications, however, Skillern Firm will help you move your case along as quickly as possible. It also happens much faster if both parents agree, and we can use mediation to help you and your ex-spouse come to an arrangement.
Q: Is it possible for my child support amount to go up if I request a modification?
A: Yes, the amount of child support can increase when you apply for a modification, especially if you are now earning more than you were when the order was issued.
Contact Skillern Firm Today
Child support issues are challenging to navigate. Whether you have been ordered to pay support and are no longer able to meet requirements, or you think you should be entitled to an increase in child support, you should seek legal representation. At Skillern Firm, we know how to navigate the Texas legal system. Our dedication to family law, mediation, and litigation allows us to handle even the most complex cases.
Contact Skillern Firm today at (936) 213-8479 to arrange an initial consultation with a Houston child support modification attorney.