If you, your child, or your ex-spouse went through a major change in their life recently, you may want to look into child support modification in Texas. Why? Well, the only thing constant in life is change, as the saying goes and, unfortunately, child custody in Texas is no exception. 

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 child custody in Texas. Here are a couple of quick examples of 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. If child support has previously been established, you will then also need to apply 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 modifications will still need to be made. 

About child support modification in Texas

Believe it or not, without a major event to herald the need for adjustments, the opportunity to modify child support can sometimes fall through the cracks. And if parties don’t get along, it may be tempting to let things stand as-is just so you can stay out of one another’s’ hair. Ultimately, however, child support modification in Texas works to the benefit of your child(ren) and your families. 

What are the material & substantial circumstances that constitute the right to apply for child support modification in Texas? 

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:

The child… 

  • 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
  • Receives a financial windfall (such as an inheritance)
  • Becomes fiscally responsible for the support of another child or children

Note: 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 modification in Texas is, “When can you modify a child support order in Texas?” Child support 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 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 you modify back child support? 

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 easy way and the hard way. 

  • Easy way: Go through the Texas child support review process (CSRP).
    If you and the other party can see your way to an agreement in how to change the court order, going through the CSRP will be a faster means of getting your child support modified.
  • Hard way: Go to court.
    If three years have passed or a substantial change in circumstances has occurred but you’re unable to agree with the other party about what you’re paying/receiving in the way of child support, then your best move is to hire a lawyer and get a court hearing scheduled. Though this way is harder, the result would ultimately be for the best interest of the child.

Can child support be modified without going to court? 

Yes, it is possible for support to be modified without going to court, but only under certain circumstances. If your judge provides a cost of living adjustment (COLA) order when setting child support, then your child support will automatically adjust to the current cost of living as determined by the Consumer Price Index

Even if you have a COLA order, changes to child support that don’t pertain to cost-of-living adjustments must be handled with either the CSRP or in court. 

Child support modification 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 child support modification in Texas a potentially harrowing ordeal. To avoid being fleeced, make sure you have an aggressive Houston, Texas family law attorney at your side. 

Whether you want to know how to modify child support, about what happens at a child support modification hearing, 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 online today.

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Taly Thiessen

Taly Thiessen is a strong attorney with a solid background in criminal law, family law and litigation. She is the advocate you would want to win your case.