Although child support is an essential part of mitigating the damage done by separation and making sure that children are taken care of post-divorce, sometimes circumstances change and child support modification in Texas is necessary. 

What may have started as a fair arrangement could become unfair due to a major change in your, your ex-spouse, or your child’s life, and eventually not work towards anybody’s well-being. Luckily, child support modifications allow for several types of changes to take place, whether you’re fighting for custody after a Texas no-fault divorce or need a Houston child support lawyer to negotiate a different payment structure. 

Taly Thiessen and the Houston family lawyers at Thiessen Law Firm are here to tell you everything you need to know about child support modification in Texas. If you or a loved one is curious about child support modification or needs a fierce advocate for any family-law-related litigation, call the attorneys at Thiessen Law Firm today at (713) 864-9000 and ask them to fight for your family. 

Child support modification vs. modification of child custody in Texas

Before we get into the details of child support modification in Texas, we must make a distinction between modification of child support and modification of child custody in Texas. 

Petitioning for modification of child custody in Texas means petitioning to change either the current possession and access order, rights and duties, school, primary residence or a number of other child related factors. If child support has previously been established, you will then also need to apply for a modification of child support. 

What are the grounds for modification of custody in Texas? 

According to the Texas Family Code, a person can apply for modification of custody if a significant change in circumstance affects the child’s well-being. Some common reasons that you might apply for modification of custody include:

  • The custodial parent has changed their living situation (for example, moving far away from the child’s school or taking on roommates).  
  • The custodial parent has a work schedule that has become untenable for the child’s needs. 
  • The child prefers the non-custodial parent.
  • The custodial parent gives a judge reason to fear for the child’s safety.
  • The child’s present situation is different than it was when the final order was entered. 

If you are planning on filing for modification of custody in Texas, make sure that you have a talented and dedicated child custody lawyer in Houston by your side. Custody decisions are entirely discretionary, so be ready to put your best foot forward and present the most compelling version of your case you possibly can. 

What are the grounds for child support modification in Texas?

Believe it or not, without a major event to cause the need for adjustments, opportunities to modify child support often fall through the cracks; because parties frequently don’t get along after separation, parents are often tempted to let things stand as-is just to stay out of one another’s hair. 

Ultimately, however, child support modification in Texas should work to the benefit of your child(ren) and your family. The most common reason for filing for a child support modification is a change in circumstances that date the old agreement and make it less appropriate. This is usually called a “material and substantial change in circumstances.”

What is a material change in circumstances for child support in Texas?

Material or substantial changes in circumstances are the most common reason for filing a child support modification claim. Changes in circumstances can happen to the custodial parent, the non-custodial parent, or even someone else in the family, as long as they impact the parents or the child. You can petition to modify child support in Texas when:

A child:

  • Moves to a new living arrangement
  • Has special medical, psychological, or educational needs
  • Has a change in medical insurance and overage

A 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

If these reasons look similar to why you might apply for modification of child custody in Texas, it’s because they are the most common. While the life events that cause families to rethink the terms of their separation are similar, whether custody or child support needs to be modified to best serve the family depends entirely on your family and your situation.

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. 

When can you file a child support modification form 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?” There are two major circumstances under which child support modification forms in Texas can be filed. 

  1. There has been a material and substantial change in circumstances. As we discussed earlier, if a serious change comes about in a parent or child’s life you have the right to petition for child support modification. In other words, if you hit the jackpot by winning a lottery, be prepared to modify your child support. 
  2. Three years have 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.

If you meet neither of these conditions, chances are that you’ll have to wait to file a child support modification form, but it is always worth it to consult with a trusted family lawyer to make sure you’re making the right choices. 

Can you modify back child support? 

In Texas, it is not possible to modify back child support. The court’s decision regarding child support modification is prospective, meaning it applies to future payments and does not retroactively alter past obligations. 

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 that a material and substantial change in circumstances has occurred and take action before too much time passes.  

How do I file for a modification of child support?

The steps to filing for modification of child support in Texas are as follows:

  1. Request a review for modification using the Texas AG’s online portal. The state will reach out to you and your ex-spouse within 30 days. 
  2. The state will verify both you and your ex’s information, including income, health insurance coverage for the children, and residential addresses. You, your employers, or your family members may receive additional documents during this stage to help the gathering of information. 
  3. A child support specialist will conduct a review of any prior orders for child support, medical support, and any agreements. Some factors that may influence the decision to modify or not modify your child support include:
    1. Amount of time since the last order
    2. New child support calculation
    3. Life changes (material changes in circumstance) that have occurred, like changes in income, health insurance, or possession of the child.
  4. Your request for modification is either approved or not approved.
  5. If you are approved, the state may schedule a Child Support Review Process Appointment, which is a negotiation appointment that begins the process of writing your new order. 
  6. If you and your ex cannot agree to a new child support order, then you will need to go to court. If you do agree, then you have yourself a new child support order. 

A lot needs to go right for a successful modification of child support to go through in Texas. There are many points in the long process where you can be rejected, causing you to either start over again or file a motion to modify with the court. Either way, when things get rough, the Houston family lawyers at Thiessen Law Firm are here for you. 

How to win a child support modification case in Texas

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. If you’re wondering how to win your child support case in Texas, the secret to not being fleeced is to make sure you have an aggressive family law attorney at your side. 

Whether you’re looking for a father’s rights attorney or a divorce attorney in Houston, the family lawyers at Thiessen Law Firm can tell your family’s story in mediation or court, and help you and your family strike a newer, fairer agreement. 

Call Taly and the family lawyers at Thiessen Law Firm today at (713) 864-9000 or contact us onlineand ask us to fight for your family. 

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