Since child support agreements in Texas, and elsewhere, typically remain in effect until children are at least 18 years of age, it is common for the parents’ circumstances, or children’s needs, to change. In some cases, these changes may necessitate adjustments to existing child support agreements. At The Law Office of Roland R. Esparza, P.C., we often hear from people who have had a change in circumstances, but are unsure if they may be able to seek a child support modification. Therefore, in this post, we will discuss when child support modifications can be sought and under what circumstances they may be awarded.
Generally, adjustments are not automatically made to Texas child support agreements. In order to have the court consider a modification, one parent, or the other, must file a petition with the court. Under Texas’ state statutes, parents may seek adjustments to their child support payments when they have had a material and substantial change in circumstances. In most cases, it must have been at least three years since the agreement was established or last altered for the court to consider a modification. Furthermore, there must also be a difference of $100, or at least 20 percent, between the current monthly payment amount and the new amount that would likely be ordered based on the state’s child support guidelines.
Many hardships, or changes in circumstance, may impact parents’ ability to make their court ordered payments, or alter the amount of financial support that children require. However, not all situations provide acceptable causation for child support modifications, according to the Attorney General of Texas. In the state of Texas, at least one of the following must generally have occurred in order for a parent’s change in circumstances to be considered material and substantial:
- An increase or a reduction in the noncustodial parent’s income
- A change in the child’s health insurance coverage
- An alteration to the child’s living arrangements
Additionally, a noncustodial parent becoming legally responsible for other children may also be considered a material and substantial change in circumstances. Ultimately, the power to decide whether to award child support agreement modifications lies with the court. As such, each case is unique and numerous factors are taken into consideration when making the decision.
For more information, please visit our page on court-ordered agreement modifications.