How to Request a Child Support Order Be Decreased in Texas

By Elizabeth Rayne

If you lose your job, you become ill or your child's healthcare expenses go down, courts in Texas may decrease the amount of child support ordered. However, Texas courts can only change your obligation to make future payments, not missed payments you already owe. You must act quickly if you find that you cannot make your payments to avoid falling far behind.

Overview

Texas courts may modify a child support order if it was part of a divorce decree and circumstances have substantially and materially changed since the time of the original order. For example, Texas courts may modify the support order if the income of the paying parent changes, either by getting a raise or losing a job. If the child's health or education needs substantially change, courts may increase the child support order or decrease it if the child no longer requires the services. Additionally, parents may ask the court to review the order once every three years, regardless of whether circumstances have changed.

Three-Year Modification

Unless circumstances have materially and substantially changed, the court will not change a child support order that has been in effect for over three years except if the new calculation would result in the order being 20 percent or $100 higher or lower than the original order. To determine if a change is necessary after three years, courts will apply the same calculation used to come up with the original order. For example, if your monthly income is under $6,000, the court will calculate support based on the number of children. For one child, support is calculated at 20 percent of the noncustodial parent's net monthly income.

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Modification Process

In order to have the court review your child support order, you must file a Petition for Modification with the same court that originally issued the order. In the petition, you may ask the court to schedule a hearing for the matter. You must serve the petition and notice of the hearing date on the other parent, meaning it must be delivered by an adult other than yourself, usually a process server or sheriff's deputy. At the hearing, you must present evidence to support your claim. As the paying parent, you likely will have to provide evidence of your income, including pay stubs or unemployment checks.

Agreements and Temporary Orders

After you file the petition, the court may enter a temporary order that will last until the final hearing. As an alternative to having the court modify the support order, parents may submit a written agreement to the court. Coming to an agreement may speed up the modification process, particularly because you can avoid going to trial. The court will enter the agreement, making it enforceable just as a court-ordered modification would be, assuming the order is in the child's best interest. If not, the court may ask the parents to revise the order.

Texas Attorney General

Parents in Texas have the option to seek help from the Office of the Attorney General Child Support Division to enforce and modify child support orders. The Attorney General does not represent either parent, but instead represents the state's interest in ensuring the child has proper financial support. The Attorney Generally is automatically involved in cases where parents or children receive public benefits, such as Temporary Assistance for Needy Families or Medicaid. However, other Texas residents may also apply for services from the Attorney General.

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How to File With the Attorney General to Increase Child Support in the State of Texas
 

References

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Alabama Laws on Child Support & the Restart of Child Support

Child support in Alabama is usually determined in a straightforward manner. As in many other states, Alabama uses the "income shares" model to determine child support. The formula takes into account the combined gross income of both parents, percentage each parent earns and several other factors such as who pays for health insurance. Either parent can ask for the child support amount to be recalculated at any time when there is a change of circumstances. There are situations when child support is stopped and then restarted, but they are rare.

Help With Receiving Unpaid Child Support in Texas

During divorces, Texas courts issue child-support orders to direct the noncustodial parent to pay a certain amount of support for his children. If the noncustodial parent does not pay the support as ordered, it can be difficult for the custodial parent to return to court for help enforcing the order. However, the Texas Attorney General has resources to help custodial parents collect the child support they are owed.

Can Child Support Go Up When a Spouse Makes More Money in California?

Child support orders are not permanent, but instead adaptable to particular changes of circumstance. In California, the modification process begins with a petition to the court and the judge will look to whether a material change in circumstances has occurred, with enhanced wealth typically qualifying as such a change. However, it is important to understand that increased income is only one factor of many the court will take into consideration when determining whether or not to increase support.

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