When parents go to court and have a child support order established, either through a divorce or child custody case, that order will take into account the number of children an obligor (the parent who owes child support) is responsible for paying support towards as well as his or her income at the time the order is signed by a judge.
Obviously, a court cannot take into account hypotheticals when creating an order because of the uncertainty of what will or will not occur in the future.
Some prior clients of ours at the Law Office of Bryan Fagan will even ask me if we can negotiate from the standpoint of our client switching jobs in the next few months and having less income as a result.
Or, if we represent the party who whom child support will be paid a client in that position may speculate that the other parent is set to receive a raise in their income soon and that we need to take that circumstance into consideration when determining the level of child support.
While my response is that we have no real grounds to consider those sort of changes when creating an initial child support order the State of Texas does allow a modification of the child support figure based on a substantial change in circumstances of either party or a child.
Maybe you are in a position where your income or your ex-spouse’s income has changed a great deal one way or the other since you were last in court and want to know what can be done to adjust the child support commitment either by increase or decreasing that obligation. The Law Office of Bryan Fagan would like to take this opportunity to walk you through a modification of child support and how this process takes shape in Texas.
Suit to Modify Child Support
There are three ways to modify a prior order on child support in Texas. Those are:
- Three years must have elapsed since the time the prior order was signed by a judge
- A substantial change must have occurred for one of the parties to the original suit or to a child that the court has jurisdiction over
- The parties must agree to the modification
A court will ultimately need to determine what is in the best interest of the child that any order would seek to serve.
Each of these circumstances will need to be examined further in order to illustrate the probable scenarios that can lead to a modification of child support.
Taking a closer look at the three-year rule for modification of a child support order
If three years has gone by since the last time you were in court for a child support related matter then it is unnecessary to show a substantial change in circumstances that is ordinarily necessary to have the child support modified.
Specifically, if the change in child support would be more than 20% or $100 different than what the current order states then a court will change the child support accordingly without much difficulty.
The only exception worth mentioning here is that if the prior order is not based on the percentages for support (20% for one child, 25% for two children, etc.) contained in the Texas Family Code then you will still need to show a substantial change in circumstances. This is true even if the three-year time period has elapsed.
What exactly is a substantial change in circumstances?
We’ve discussed the phrase “substantial change in circumstances” a few times already in this blog post so let’s actually define (or attempt to define) what a court needs to see when it comes to a substantial change.
As it applies to a child that is covered by a child support order, what we are really concerned with is a change in the needs of a child. Does that child have a medical condition that has come into being since the last time his or her parents were in court?
Maybe that medical condition requires at home care or other accommodation that needs to be reflected in the child support figure. The opposite could also be true: maybe a prior medical condition has resolved itself and a higher than standard child support amount is no longer justified.
In some instances, child support can actually be extended beyond the normal cut off point of the child’s 18th birthday or their high school graduation (whichever arrives later on the calendar) in the event that special needs require that to occur.
If the child has a learning disability or other cognitive problem that require continued care that the child him or herself cannot provide on their own an obligor parent may be required to continue to pay to support the child.
In terms of a substantial change in circumstances in one of the parties to the original suit, usually a change in income is seen that can help justify a modification of the prior child support amount.
If you are a mother who receives child support and you come to find out that your ex-husband recently received a promotion that doubles his salary you may want to inquire about the possibility of getting his child support figure increased.
On the other hand, if you are a father who recently lost his job only to find a new position with a different company where the salary is less than what you used to make, you should inquire about reducing your child support obligation to take this change in circumstance into account.
Ideal solution: the parties agree to modify the child support order
After reading this blog post it may be hard to believe that parents can agree between themselves to modify the child support order either upwards or downwards. If an agreement has come to be, the parties will still need to have a modified order drafted and have the judge sign that order.
If the ordered child support amount deviates from the standards set forth in the Family Code then that deviation will need to be justified. On the whole, a court will typically be very happy with you and your ex spouse if you come into the courtroom with an order signed by both of you. Less work for the court and less struggle and arguing for you and your co-parent.
The Law Office of Bryan Fagan- Texas Child Support Modification attorneys
If you are interested in learning more about modifying a prior child support order please contact the attorneys with the Law Office of Bryan Fagan. A consultation with one of our family law attorneys is free of charge and we are available to meet with you six days a week.
If you want to know more about what you can do, CLICK the button below to get your FREE E-book: “16 Steps to Help You Plan & Prepare for Your Texas Divorce”
Other Articles you may be interested in:
- Texas Child Support Enforcement
- Can my Texas Driver's License Be Suspended for Not paying Child Support?
- What do I do if I have overpaid child support in Texas?
- Child Custody Basics in Texas
- Texas Child Support Appeals
- In Texas are Child Support and Visitation Connected?
- Why Ignoring Child Support Obligations is a Bad Idea in Texas
- Texas Child Support – Trust and Annuities
- Special Needs Children in Texas Child Support Cases
- How to get above guideline child support.
Law Office of Bryan Fagan | Kingwood Child Support Lawyer
The Law Office of Bryan Fagan routinely handles matters that affect children and families. If you have questions regarding child support, it's important to speak with ar Kingwood, TX Child SupportLawyer right away to protect your rights.
A child support lawyer in Kingwood TX is skilled at listening to your goals during this trying process and developing a strategy to meet those goals. Contact Law Office of Bryan Fagan by calling (281) 810-9760 or submit your contact information in our online form. The Law Office of Bryan Fagan handles Divorce cases in Spring, Texas, Cypress, Spring, Klein, Humble, Kingwood, Tomball, The Woodlands, Houston, the FM 1960 area, or surrounding areas, including Harris County, Montgomery County, Liberty County, Chambers County, Galveston County, Brazoria County, Fort Bend County and Waller County.