The only thing constant in life is change, as the saying goes. Unfortunately, child custody in Texas is no exception. Have you, your child or your ex-spouse gone through a major change in their life recently? If so, you should look into child support modification in Texas immediately.
Surprises are never your friend where custody or child support are concerned. Furthermore, child support modification is a big umbrella—under which many types of changes can take place.
Whether you’re a grandparent fighting for custody of grandchildren or you’re an individual concerned that you’re about to be subject to child support warrant searches, you need to know about child support modification in Texas.
Child support modification in Texas vs. modification of child custody
Before we get into the details of child support modification in Texas, it’s important that we make a distinction between modification of child support and modification of child custody in Texas. Here are couple of quick examples between these two different actions.
If you are petitioning for modification of child custody in Texas, you are petitioning to change the home in which your child or grandchild lives, most likely to your own home, or asking for the current visitation order to be changed.
If child support has previously been established, but you are asking that it be increased or decreased due to a change in employment, then you are looking for a modification of child support.
However, say the person to whom you were paying child support gave up their custody of the child not to you, but to a grandparent or grandparents. You would still need to pay child support, although a modification to the recipient of the support will need to be made.
However, most times a modification of child custody comes with a modification of child support, because if the Judge awards you custody of your child, the previous order requesting you pay child support would also be modified.
What are the material & substantial circumstances that constitute the right to apply for modification?
Child support modification in Texas is typically predicated on what is called a “material and substantial change in circumstances.” This substantial change in circumstance can occur to any of the parties involved. You can petition to modify child support in Texas when:
- Moves to a new living arrangement
- Has special medical, psychological or educational needs
- Has a change in medical insurance and overage
The non-custodial parent…
- Loses their job
- Receives a substantial raise or pay cut
- Incurs a change in cost to exercise possession and access to a child
- Becomes fiscally responsible for the support of another child or children
If you’re tempted to lie about your income even a little bit, know that in all likelihood you will be caught and have to pay the penalty for lying about child support. These penalties can wind up costing you way more than if you had simply paid the right amount of child support in the first place.
How often can child support be modified in Texas?
One of the most common questions we are asked regarding child support is, “When can you modify a child support order in Texas?” Child support modification in Texas can be modified either every three years or when there has been a material and substantial change in circumstances. The specifics of each condition are as follows:
- Three years has passed since the original child support order: A three-year-old child support order in and of itself doesn’t constitute the right to change the amount of child support someone is paying. For there to be a change in amount, the statutory child support guidelines must result, once applied, must show more than 20% or $100 additional in income.
- Material and substantial change in circumstances: Should any of the aforementioned material and substantial changes occur, you are within your rights to petition for child support modification in Texas. In other words, if you hit the jackpot by winning a lottery, be prepared to modify your child support.
Can a child support modification be retroactive in Texas?
No. Child support modification in Texas is not retroactive, meaning the custodial parent cannot receive back payments for income that was made before the petition for a change in child support was made.
For example, if your ex gets a raise in May, but you do not bring and win the petition for modified child support until September, your ex does not have to pay the extra amount of child support that would have been due the custodial parent from May to September.
Because child support modification is not retroactive in Texas, it’s wise to get a lawyer as soon as you are aware of a material and substantial change in circumstances has occurred.
How do I file for a modification of child support?
There are two main ways to file for a modification of child support in Texas: the slow way and the faster way.
- Slow way: Go through the Texas child support review process (CSRP). In Texas, the Office of the Attorney General works to help parents modify child support orders. If you and the other party see your way to an agreement in how to change the court order, going through the CSRP will be a cheaper means of getting your child support modified. However, this state agency deals with all the custody orders processed in Texas, so sometimes waiting to get a review date can take a while.
- Faster way: Go to court. If three years have passed or a substantial change in circumstances has occurred, then your best move is to hire a lawyer and get a court hearing scheduled. While hiring an attorney can be costly, they can get you seen by a judge in a matter of weeks instead of months.
Modification of child support in Texas doesn’t have be a pain
Even the most agreeable of former couples can get tense when the issue of money is raised, making modification of child support in Texas a potentially harrowing ordeal. To avoid being fleeced, make sure you have an aggressive Texas family law attorney at your side.
Whether you want to know how to modify child support, how to cancel child support in Texas or how to implement a child support holiday schedule, Thiessen Law Firm has your back. To schedule a consultation with Taly Thiessen, family law expert at Thiessen Law Firm, simply call 713-864-9000 or contact us today.
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