What You Need to Know About Modifying Child Support
Let’s face it. Life’s circumstances can change. You can lose your job or become ill or have some other setback that makes paying your bills and meeting your legal obligations tough. But there is one obligation that you simply cannot slack off on without serious repercussions. And that is your obligation to pay child support.
In Texas, the penalties for not paying child support are severe. They include civil penalties, attorney’s fees, judgment liens on a person’s house (even if they are re-married), liens on federal income tax refunds, and ultimately jail terms.
Yes, you can be jailed for not paying your child support.
If you find yourself unable to pay child support, you need to see if you can get the child support order modified. While a Dallas child support attorney is in the best position to advise you on whether you can reduce the amount of child support you are paying and how to go about modifying the order, the following serves as an introduction to how modification of child support works under Texas law.
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.
Contact Dallas Child Support Attorney Michael P. Granata
Of course there are always exceptions to these general guidelines, which is why it is advisable to consult with a Dallas child support attorney. If you have any questions have about modifying child support, please call family law attorney Michael P. Granata at 214-977-9050 or reach out to us online to schedule an appointment.