Defining a material and substantial change in a child support modification case

Yesterday we spent a great deal of our blog post discussing the subject of how to modify a prior child support order in Texas. From experience meeting with many clients of the Law Office of Bryan Fagan, PLLC, at their initial consultation, I can tell youLaw Office of Bryan Fagan, PLLC, that this is a very relevant subject in the lives of many of our neighbors here in southeast Texas.

If you, too, are here to learn more about how you can adjust the level of support you are receiving or paying this to, will be a blog post with you in mind.

The standard that we introduced yesterday is a “material and substantial” change in circumstances for either party or any child since the last order was signed. It is the party’s responsibility and burden that files the modification lawsuit to prove that a material and substantial change has occurred.

For instance, if you are the parent who has filed a modification with the idea that your child support obligation should be decreased, you will need to show a court that a different financial condition was in place for yourself at the time the current order was signed into place and where you currently stand in terms of your finances. While it is necessary to show a change in your circumstances in this instance, it is not required to do so for your child.

A court is looking for something substantial, not something minute or trivial if it will ultimately modify a prior court order. If your income has decreased by $100 a month since the last order was signed, it will not be a fruitful lawsuit for you if you seek to have your child support obligation modified downward.

Additionally, a court will consider whether or not you purposefully reduced your income level (intentional unemployment or underemployment) and if the change in income is temporary or permanent.

For example, suppose you were laid off from your old job due to downsizing within the company but quickly found new employment that will pay you the same as your old job after a ninety-day probationary period. In that case, a modification is likely not in the cards for you.

The reason is that although your income has decreased, it will be for a relatively short period. It is unlikely that this hiccup in your income will materially and substantially represent a change in your circumstances.

Financial status vs. income at the time of a modification attempt

Suppose you attempt to show a judge that there are material and substantial changes in your economic life. In that case, it is not sufficient to show that you are living in a smaller house, behind on bills, or otherwise suffering from a lack of resources.

The income you earn is the most crucial factor that a judge will consider when deciding whether or not to decrease your child support obligation. Your previous income will be compared to your current income.

This is not to say that your current financial circumstances are irrelevant to the evaluation. Suppose your events have become materially and substantially different than they were previously. In that case, this is a factor that the judge can consider in addition to any changes in your actual income.

That’s not to say that your peripheral circumstances can win you a child support modification case, but it is possible that they can have a positive impact.

The burden is on the party who files a modification to prove a material and substantial change.

It does not matter if the ordered amount of child support is so out of whack with your current financial circumstances and income that it is evident that a change needs to be made.

The burden is still on you as the filing party to prove this material and substantial change. A judge will not save you from poor representation or a poor presentation of evidence in your hearing.

Proving a case in which you want an award of child support to be increased

Suppose that you are the parent receiving child support on behalf of a child. At the time of your divorce, your daughter was four years old.

Not quite in school full time and not yet involved in any extracurricular activities that cost additional money. The child support ordered at the time of your divorce worked well for you, and there have been no issues with you receiving the child support on time from your ex-spouse.

However, now your child is twelve and in middle school. She has no medical issues but needs to see her doctor more regularly as she has grown older and needs an annual physical due to playing sports.

As the costs associated with raising your daughter have increased and the passing of eight years, the amount of child support you are receiving has become insufficient. Will these sorts of circumstances lead to an increase in child support if argued to a judge?

The answer is yes. A child’s growth, in addition to an increase in your spouse’s income and the passage of a lengthy period, is enough to have a judge agree to increase a child support obligation for your child’s other parent.

Again, it is not enough to show that your current amount of child support is out of whack with the present financial circumstances or your child. You must prove your case and present sufficient evidence to meet your burden of proof to be successful.

The Law Office of Bryan Fagan, PLLC- Advocates for southeast Texas Families

Thank you for the opportunity to share with you this information regarding child support laws in Texas. For more information or to schedule a free of charge consultation with one of our licensed family law attorneys, please contact the Law Office of Bryan Fagan, PLLC.

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Other Articles you may be interested in:

  1. How to correctly calculate child support in Texas
  2. Is Overtime Pay or Bonus Pay Considered for Texas Child Support?
  3. Child Support in Texas: What is the most you will have to pay, and what are the exceptions to that rule?
  4. The Dirty Trick of Quitting Your Job to Avoid Child Support During a Texas Divorce
  5. Can I get child support while my Texas divorce is pending?
  6. Do I Have to Pay Child Support if I Have Joint Custody of My Child in Texas?
  7. Can I Sue My Ex for Retroactive or Back Child Support in Texas?
  8. Child Support and College Tuition in Texas
  9. Texas Child Support Appeals
  10. In Texas, are Child Support and Visitation Connected?
  11. Why Ignoring Child Support Obligations is a Bad Idea in Texas
  12. Can I get child support and custody of my kids in Texas if we were never married?
  13. Handling a child support case as the non custodial parent, Part Five
  14. Modifying your divorce decree in Texas
  15. How to handle child support as the non custodial parent, Part Three

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