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Modifying Child Support Payments
The order for child support after your divorce is finalized is considered to be a final order. What that means is parents who have been given a final order are required to abide by that order until another agreement is reached either between the parents or by a judge. After awhile, though, you may notice that the original child support order doesn’t really fit the circumstances anymore and requires modification.
In such instances, parents can’t simply decide to make the change on their own, even if they do have an amicable relationship. Instead, you will need to begin another legal proceeding to deal with the modification request.
To begin the process of modification in Texas, contact the McKinney child support lawyers at Nordhaus Walpole PLLC. Our attorneys are here to help you determine the best strategy to attain the appropriate modification for your situation.
Reasons for Child Support Modifications
In Texas, there are two reasons to modify child support:
- Passage of time - After three years, if the calculated amount of support would change by at least either 20 percent or $100, you may petition for a modification that reflects the current guidelines.
- Change of circumstances - If a material and substantial change in circumstances has occurred, you may petition for a modification that reflects the current situation of the payer.
Petitioning on the basis of passage of time is relatively straightforward unless the paying parent is hiding income or remaining purposefully underemployed because of laziness, out of spite or for some other reason.
A change of circumstances may require more evidence, though. Simply losing your job or certain benefits doesn’t excuse you from paying child support, although it can be a factor in an ongoing situation. Generally, we begin looking at four changes to determine if we can file a valid petition:
- Has the paying parent’s income increased or decreased?
- Has the paying parent become responsible for other children?
- Have the children’s custody or other living arrangements changed?
- Have the children’s medical insurance coverage changed?
If one of these issues describes your situation, contact one of our attorneys today to learn how we can help.
Child Support and the Child’s Best Interest
Child support is calculated by formula in Texas. Child custody, however, is determined by what suits the best interests of your children.
These two ideas may seem at odds at times, particularly if the parent who should be paying support isn’t earning enough to serve your children’s best interests or the parent finds ways to shirk his or her responsibility to make payments.
It’s important for parents to do their best to keep child support and visitation separate though — unless a custody change spurs a support change — because family law in Texas is very clear about two things:
- You cannot deny visitation because the co-parent fails to satisfy the child support agreement.
- You cannot stop paying child support because the co-parent wrongfully denies visitation.
At Nordhaus Walpole PLLC, our attorneys are experienced in handling these types of matters. We realize emotions run high with respect to children and money, but it’s crucial that you do not break your end of the agreement just because the other parent does.
Instead, if circumstances have changed, let us help you with a petition for modification of child support. If you need to modify a child custody agreement, we can also assist you in that regard. Contact us today.