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When Can Child Support Be Modified in Texas?

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Orders for child support are only allowed to be changed by getting a new order from the court. Informal agreements between the parties involved cannot change the child support that is ordered by the court. Although the parties may agree to the change, unless it is written in an order and signed by the court, the person ordered to pay the support may be held in contempt of court if they didn’t pay the amount ordered by the court and a dispute arises.

Because of this, it is critical that any changes in child support be reflected in a new order that is signed by the court. If the two parties aren’t able to agree in a change of child support, then the dispute will be settled by the court.

When Can Child Support Be Modified? 

An order for child support can be modified under two conditions. These conditions are very broad, but are as follows:

  • If a child support order is over three years old and the child support was calculated based on the Texas Family Code child support guidelines, if the support would change by at least $100 or 20 percent, a new order may be made.
  • The party that is requesting the child support modification can prove that there has been a substantial and material change in circumstances of either of the parties or the child since the last order for child support was made by the court the order may be modified.

What Is a Substantial or Material Change in Circumstances? 

Although the Texas Family Code doesn’t outline specific circumstances that qualify as substantial or material changes that would warrant a modification of child support, the following changes are the most common that are asserted by a parent seeking such modification:

  • A decrease or increase in income.
  • Loss of employment.
  • The person paying child support is now legally responsible for supporting additional children.
  • The child that support is being paid for has new medical, education, or psychological needs.
  • The living arrangements of the child have changed.

When child support is modified, the support is typically not retroactive back to the date in which the change of circumstances took place. For example, if the change of circumstance occurred in June, but the court order was modified in October of the same year, the new child support amount would not be retroactive back to June. The new order would simply start in October.

Because of this, if there is a change of circumstances that would justify a change of child support order, you need to contact an experienced family law attorney as quickly as possible after the change of circumstances has taken place so you and your child are not cheated of the child support you deserve, or if you are paying support, you are not paying more than is necessary based on court guidelines.

Contact an Experienced Family Law Attorney 

Whether you are receiving child support or paying it, you need to ensure that the amount that is being exchanged between the two parties is correct for the current situation of the child or children involved. The Houston attorneys at Lindamood & Robinson, P.C. can help you understand when a modification of child support would be appropriate. Contact us today to schedule a consultation.

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