Child support is crucial to a child’s well-being. As such, it is vital that support calculations be fair and reflect the individual circumstances of each case. In previous posts, we have discussed the guidelines for calculating child support in Texas, but circumstances, capabilities and needs can change over time. So, what happens if parents want to change an order for support?
Parents can seek a child support modification. However, certain elements must be in place to support a petition for modification.
Three years have passed
A child support order is eligible for modification every three years in Texas. At that point, courts may approve a modification if the resulting order would reflect a difference of at least $100 or 20 percent per month.
Reviewing your order every few years can be important, as it ensures parents continue to make fair contributions and meet the child’s needs.
Substantial changes in circumstances
You do not have to wait for three years to seek support modification if you, the other parent, or your child have experienced significant, material changes in circumstances.
Some examples of these changes could include:
- Parental job loss
- Significant increase in a parent’s income
- Dramatic shifts in parenting time
- Changes in a parent’s ability to care for the child
- Incapacity of a parent or the child
- Parental relocation
- Changes in a child’s medical insurance coverage or medical needs
- Changes in the number of children for whom a noncustodial parent is responsible
These are some examples of situations that may warrant recalculation of a child support order before three years have passed. However, if these circumstances are temporary or brief, modification may not be necessary.
The modification process
It is crucial to note that parents should not modify support orders themselves. Even if both parents agree to a modification, they must have the court’s approval for an order to be enforceable and valid.
However, parents can avoid going to court and instead go through the Child Support Review Process (CSRP) with the Texas Attorney General’s Office. This is an out-of-court meeting where parents negotiate modification themselves, though a judge must still sign the modification order.
Whether parents go to court or CSRP, the goal of modifying child support should always be to secure an order that is reasonable and protective of a child’s needs and best interests.