Last Updated on March 14, 2023 by Benson Varghese
In life, parents’ circumstances change. They may change jobs, move away, get remarried, or fall on hard times. Major changes can affect a parent’s ability to pay child support, care for, or even visit their kids. In the family law arena, changes that affect the family dynamic are referred to as a “material and substantial change in circumstances” and can warrant a change, or modification, to an existing court order.
Under What Circumstances Can You Change or Modify Child Support in Texas?
In Texas, child support can only be modified if one (or more) of the following proves true:
1. It has been at least three years since the last child support order was established or modified, AND the monthly amount of child support owed, calculated under the Texas Family Code Child Support Guidelines, has changed by at least 20 percent or $100.
In other words, if the non-custodial parent's net income has changed and the amount of child support owed will increase or decrease by at least $100 or 20 percent per month, then either parent can make a request to modify child support.
2. A material and substantial change in circumstances have occurred since the last child support order. If a parent can show a significant change in circumstances (such as job loss or birth of another child), then they can circumvent the three-year requirement and seek modification at any time.
What Constitutes a Material and Substantial Change in Circumstances?
The law recognizes that life is unpredictable and that changes can happen that make the current child support order no longer workable. Generally speaking, a material and substantial change in circumstances that could warrant a modification of child support include:
* The non-custodial parent's income has either increased or decreased.
A job loss, a pay cut, or a promotion with a much higher salary would qualify as a material and substantial change.
* The non-custodial parent is now legally responsible for other additional children.
Getting remarried and having another child would qualify as a material and substantial change.
* The child's medical insurance coverage has changed.
If the non-custodial parent lost their job and the child's medical insurance, it could qualify as a material and substantial change.
* The child's living arrangements have changed.
If the child is now living with a new guardian or custodial parent, it would qualify as a material and substantial change.
How Can I Change a Child Support Order in Texas?
In Texas, there are otwo ways to change a child support order in Texas:
* The Child Support Review Process (CSRP) with the Texas Attorney General's Office; or
* A Court Hearing (Usually with a Private Attorney)
We give an overview of each process below.
What is the Child Support Review Process (CSRP?)
In Texas, the Child Support Review Process (CSRP) is a way for parents to request a review of their child support order to determine if it should be modified based on the parent's current financial circumstances.
To request a CSRP, a parent must complete and submit a request form to the Texas Attorney General's Office. Once submitted, the AG's will review the information and determine whether a modification of the child support order is appropriate. If a modification is deemed appropriate, both parents will be notified of the proposed changes and provided with an opportunity to contest the proposed modification.
If both parents agree to the modification, a new child support order will be issued. If the parents do not agree, a hearing will be scheduled before a judge, who will make a decision on the modification. The downfall to a CSRP is that it can at least six months, as they are backlogged.
How Can I Modify Child Support in Family Court?
Although some people choose to try and modify a child support order through the AG's Office, many people choose to expedite the process and seek a modification through their original family court with an experienced child support attorney.
The attorney will review the facts and circumstances surrounding the proposed change and draft and file a petition with the court that issued the original child support order. The petition will include a clear explanation of why the parent wants to modify the child support order and evidence of how the circumstances have changed since the original order was issued.
Once the petition is filed, the other parent will be served with a copy of the petition and a notice of the court hearing. At the court hearing, both parents will have a chance to present their arguments, and the judge will make a decision on whether to modify the child support order. The judge will consider a variety of factors, including the child's needs, the parents' financial circumstances, and the best interests of the child.
If the judge approves the modification, a new child support order will be issued.
What Can Happen if the Parent Changes Child Support Payments Without an Order?
It is important to note that a parent cannot simply stop making or change child support payments without a court order modifying the child support order. Failure to pay child support can result in serious consequences, such as wage garnishment, driver's license suspension, and even jail time.
Want to Modify Child Support? Contact Us.
If circumstances in the family dynamic have changed and you need to modify child support in Fort Worth, contact Varghese Summersett Family Law Group today. Our experienced child support attorneys can help you navigate the process and ensure that child support payments are fair and equitable. We understand that life’s circumstances change and it’s important to get in front of those changes as soon as possible – so that you don’t get left behind.
We have helped custodial parents who are seeking more child support, as well as non-custodial parents who seeking a decrease in the amount they owe. We treat all of our clients with respect and compassion while helping them through the legal process in the most efficient manner possible. Call (817) 900-3220 today to schedule a consultation.