When a child support order is set, it does not have to become a permanent fixture in your relationship with your children. There are many economic situations and family changes that can alter how much you should be paying in child support, and when changes arise, the order should change, too.
The Dallas child support modification attorneys at The Queenan Law Firm can file to have support orders modified to help you and your children get additional support or to fight to help you pay less in your case. For a confidential legal consultation, call our law offices today at (817) 476-1797.
Filing for Child Support Modification in Dallas
To have a child support order or agreement modified, you have to file with the court. Many problems arise in cases where one parent resorts to self-help by refusing to pay the full price or by requesting additional payments. To have things handled officially and in the proper way, the court will need to approve any changes. Until the order is officially modified and the judge puts the modified order in place, the old order still stands, and you have to follow all of its requirements.
An order can be modified by the parties themselves if they can agree to new terms. If you and your lawyer can meet with the other parent and their lawyer, you can agree to introduce new terms to the agreement/order or modify anything in place. Then, you can present these terms to the judge and have them commit them to the agreement/order.
If you cannot come to an agreement, you can petition the court directly for modification. When you do this, your request for modification will state the changes that occurred that lead you to believe you can get the order modified. There might be a few hearings on whether these changes are legitimate, and the other parent might get their chance to challenge your petition. In the end, the judge will decide which way to rule.
You also have to file to have a support order terminated, and it remains in effect until the judge officially terminates it.
Grounds for Having Child Support Lowered or Increased in Dallas
The courts in Dallas will be willing to listen to requests for child support modification in most cases where there is a “material and substantial change” to the circumstances in your case. When the parties initially make their agreement or the court initially sets the support order, it will be based on many factors, including the following:
- The amount of time each parent spends with the children
- Each parent’s income
- Each parent’s necessary expenses
- How many children the order is for
- How many other children each parent has
- Each parent’s ability to work to support the children
At the beginning of the case, the parties or the judge will weigh these factors and calculate how much one parent should pay in child support. If there are noticeable changes to these circumstances, then it would change how the calculation should come out. Any changes that touch on these factors and would modify the amount of support are usually considered both “material” and “substantial.”
That means that there usually must be some big life change that leads to the petition for child support modification, such as one of the following:
- Either parent loses their job
- Either parent gets a higher-paying job
- Either parent has another child
- Either parent has new healthcare needs or other necessary expenses
In many cases, changes that you intentionally choose cannot change the order, so child support cannot be decreased simply because you bought a more expensive house, quit your job to intentionally make less money, or transferred all your assets to someone else to block them from being used toward child support.
You can petition the court to terminate a child support order instead of modifying it if the child has been adopted (e.g., by the other parent’s new spouse), joins the military, or turns 18 and graduates from high school.
What to Do if Child Support is Too Low or Too High in Dallas
If you are paying child support and find that it is too expensive, you might be entitled to have the support order changed so you can pay less. Mistakes are sometimes made when judges write support orders, especially if you did not have a lawyer represent you when the child support order was initially set. Sometimes mistakes even make it so that those receiving child support might not be getting nearly enough money to properly support their children. A lawyer can often help correct errors.
Usually, petitions to modify support orders have to be based on some change to the underlying factors that the judge used to set the initial support order. That means that if the child support was wrong at the beginning, and nothing has changed since then, you might not be able to file for modification. However, if there was a clear error made, you might be able to appeal the child support order or find some sort of qualifying change that allows you to file for modification.
Call Our Dallas Child Support Modification Attorneys for a Confidential Consultation
Having a lawyer in your corner during a child support case is often incredibly important in helping you protect your finances and making sure your children get enough money to live happy, healthy lives. If there are changes to your finances and you need help modifying a support order, contact The Queenan Law Firm’s Dallas child support modification lawyers today. We offer legal consultations to help you understand whether you have a case and how we can help. For your case consultation, call us today at (817) 476-1797.