When parents divorce in Texas, the court does its best to set a child support amount that meets the essential needs of the child. The judge also considers the financial resources and living expenses of each parent.
However, these factors will probably change over time. That is especially true if parents divorce while their children are still very young. A support order that worked in the beginning may not be fair or reasonable if a family’s circumstances change significantly.
How can parents change a support order?
Either the paying or receiving parent can ask the court to review the current support order. Typically, the court will review support amounts if at least three years have passed since a judge approved the order. However, parents may be able to request a review sooner if there has been a major and lasting change in financial circumstances.
During a review, the court compares the current order against Texas’ child support guidelines. Once the review is complete, payment amounts may go up, go down or remain the same.
When might modification be necessary?
The court is only likely to approve support modification if either a parent or child’s circumstances have changed significantly. Examples include:
- A change in custody arrangements
- A substantial increase or decrease in a parent’s income
- A parent’s responsibility for additional children
- A significant change in a child’s daycare, medical or educational needs
It is important that parents understand that they must go through the modification review process to change support payment amounts. Without court approval, a parent may face serious penalties if he or she fails to make payments in full, including wage garnishment, loss of driver’s license and even possible jail time.