Today’s third and final blog post in a series from the Law Office of Bryan Fagan on the subject of child support and medical support will cover attempts to modify child support orders as well as details regarding the length of time a child support order is good for. As always, I recommend going back and reading the previous installments in this series as that will help bring you up to speed about this subject.
How long does a child support/medical support order last?
Most folks have a general idea of how long an order such as these lasts but the specifics are a little different than what most people think. The language that will be included in either your Final Decree of Divorce or your child custody order notes that you or your spouse’s obligation to pay support will last until the child in question graduates from high school or turns eighteen, whichever of those two events occurs later. An exception to this rule is that if your child gets married, becomes emancipated or passes away then the support obligation will cease at the time any of these three events occurs.
Another (thankfully) less frequent factor that can change the general rule on how long a support obligation lasts is if your child has a disability that will require that you and your spouse provide care for the child after high school. If it is proved at a trial that this child will require care beyond the eighteenth birthday/graduation from high school then your judge may order support well beyond the occurrence of either of these events. Of course, you and your spouse can come to this conclusion on your own and agree to have the support extended as well without having to go before a judge.
Child Support Enforcement Lawsuits in Texas
This is another issue that comes up a lot when the client is the parent who will be paid the child support. There is typically some amount of skepticism that their soon to be ex-spouse is actually going to follow through and pay the support that is ordered. You may be nodding to yourself as you consider whether or not you have any confidence that your spouse will fulfill their obligation as ordered.
The failure to pay child support is a violation of your order and carries with it penalties under the law. However, you must act in order to have these potential penalties triggered. A child support enforcement suit is the means by which you can have these violations of the order addressed by a judge. Essentially you would file a subsequent lawsuit that asks the judge to address the missed support payments. Presenting evidence in the form of an attorney general’s ledger of missed payments and the total owed is a good start.
Penalties include monetary fines to include the missed payments as well as attorney’s fees, court costs and specific dollar fines for each individual violation put forth in the enforcement action. Additional penalties include the inability to renew a driver’s license, hunting/fishing license and even jail time (not to exceed 180 days).
Please keep in mind that if your ex spouse has not paid child support to you that does not allow you to withhold your children from him or her when it comes time for their possession to begin. Doing so would allow your ex spouse to have an enforcement claim against you for violating another section of your Divorce Decree. The safe bet is to follow the law as set forth in your order and to have your attorney address any violations made against you.
Modifying a Child Support/Medical Support Order
You may be in a position where you have a child support in place but the amount ordered to be paid currently does not reflect your current circumstances. It could be that your income has dropped and you believe the child support obligation needs to decrease. Or, you could be under the impression that your ex-spouse’s income has increased and therefore a judge may need to determine if an increase in child support is needed. A child support modification suit is the remedy for this problem.
A modification may be brought if you and your ex spouse agree to the change, when the circumstances of your case have materially and substantially changed or if three years have passed since your order was rendered. What I mean by “material and substantial change” is that if you are asking for the modification then you will need to show that the change has happened since the time of the old order coming into place.
This is a fact specific determination you are asking the judge to make and your individual circumstances will be evaluated as a result. A shift in which parent cares primarily for the child, the loss of a job or some other crucial factor will need to be in play for a modification request to be granted on these grounds.
If there is a guideline level of child support ordered for you to pay or receive and three years has passed a court can review your order to determine if a modification is justified. Here, if the amount of support being paid currently is either $100 or 20% removed from what would be ordered in a modification then the order will in fact be modified.
A word to the wise- if you are considering hiring an attorney and filing for a modification of child/medical support then you will need to determine if it is worth your effort in terms of time and cost. If you are attempting to get a $100 increase in child support for your 16 year old son it is likely that the costs of hiring an attorney and potentially going to court will outweigh any increase you win in the area of child/medical support.
Questions on child support/medical support? Contact the Law Office of Bryan Fagan
Thank you for the opportunity to discuss the important issue of child/medical support with you. As always a licensed family law attorney is standing by to answer your questions on this or any subject in family law. The Law Office of Bryan Fagan represents clients across southeast Texas and we would be honored to speak to you today about the services that our firm can provide you and your family with.
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:
- Important Information Explained Regarding Child Support and Medical Support in Texas, Part Two
- Important Information Explained Regarding Child Support and Medical Support in Texas
- Texas Child Support Basics
- Texas Child Support Basics, Part Two
- Can my Texas Driver's License Be Suspended for Not paying Child Support?
- Child Support Modification in Texas (Part 1)
- What do I do if I have overpaid child support in Texas?
- Child Custody Basics in Texas
- Child Support and College Tuition in Texas
- Texas Child Support Appeals
- In Texas are Child Support and Visitation Connected?
- Texas Child Support – Trust and Annuities
Law Office of Bryan Fagan | Tomball, Texas Child Support Lawyers
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 one of our Tomball, TX Child Support Lawyers right away to protect your rights.
Our child supportlawyers in Tomball TX are 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 child supportcases in Tomball, Texas, Cypress, Klein, Humble, Kingwood, Tomball, The Woodlands, 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.