Whether you pay child support or receive it, the fact is that the amount of your order may not be practical, or even doable, for your current lifestyle. You may wonder if you can petition to modify the amount and, if so, when.
Texas law recognizes that circumstances change. What you paid or received, say, 10 years ago, may not work today. To account for life changes, the Attorney General of Texas explains that you may petition for a modification of child support through the Child Support Review Process or a court hearing. However, the CSRP or courts will only grant a modification if your case meets certain requirements.
Grounds for modifying child support
For the courts to consider increasing or lowering your child support amount, your situation must meet two main requirements. The first is that it has been three or more years since the courts established the order or since they last modified the monthly amount. Additionally, the current amount must deviate from the child support guidelines by 20% or $100. The second requirement is that either you, your child’s other parent or both must have undergone a substantial and material change in circumstances since the courts last set the order.
Defining material and substantial change in circumstances
To meet the second requirement, one of four things must have occurred. Those are as follows:
- You became legally responsible for additional children
- Your income either increased or decreased
- Your child’s living arrangements changed
- Your child’s health insurance coverage changed
If you believe that your situation calls for a child support modification, you may want to consult with a lawyer before you file any paperwork. Failure to seek a modification properly could result in the judge throwing out your case or worse — it could result in an outcome that is the opposite of what you wanted.