How to Modify Child Support

The court will always apply the “best interest of the child” standard in any child support modification order, but given that threshold requirement, there are a number of ways to modify child support orders.

  • The parties can agree to modify the order.
  • 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.
  • Three years have elapsed since a judge signed the time the prior order and you want to revisit the order.

The Parties Agree to a Modification of Child Support

The path of least resistance is for the parties to come to an agreement on modifying the child support order. The Texas Family Code provides set standards for how child support payments are calculated. So even if you and your ex agree on the modifications, you need to be prepared to justify the new amounts if they deviate from those standards. Even if you agree among yourselves to a new child support amount, you still need to draft and present a modified order to the judge and it won’t go into effect unless and until the judge signs it.

You Show a Substantial Change in Circumstances

A substantial change in circumstances can refer to the child or a parent. For example, when it applies to a child that is covered by child support it refers to a change in what is needed to care for the child. A change could occur, for example, because of an increase in the child’s medical needs requiring additional support and care or less support and care.

When it comes to a change of circumstances of the parent paying child support, this commonly occurs when the parent’s financial situation is altered. For example the father who is paying child support may have lost his job or his income might otherwise have been lowered to the extent that he can no longer make the court ordered payments. On the other hand, if his income has gone up substantially, his ex-wife may seek to raise the child support payments due to a change in circumstances.

Applying the Three Year Rule

If three years have passed since the child support payment order you do not have to show a substantial change in circumstances to seek a modification of the order.  As a general rule, if you are seeking to increase or lower the child support payments by a minor amount that is based on the Texas Code methods of calculating child support, the court will usually allow the change.

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