Houston Child Support Modification Lawyer
If you have shared children with an ex, you could be entitled to child support payments to help raise your children. The laws of Texas require parents to support their children, and whether that is by caring for them every day in an active parenting role or by providing financial support, each parent is expected to pay their fair share. After the court sets a child support order in place, its terms could become outdated or challenging because of financial and lifestyle changes. If you need help changing or modifying your child support order, call The Queenan Law Firm.
Our Houston child support modification lawyers represent parents in child support cases and work to help them modify and terminate existing child support orders to get additional funds or avoid paying unreasonable child support amounts. Whether you are a payor or a recipient of child support payments, call our law offices to set up a free legal consultation at (817) 476-1797.
When Can Child Support Orders Be Changed in Houston, TX?
Once a child support order or agreement is signed and put into effect by a judge, it has the force of law. Court orders must be followed to the letter, or else the other parties affected by the order might be able to go to court and seek to have the order enforced against you. Whichever side of the order you are on, there may come a time that the child support order no longer seems fair based on changed circumstances. These changed circumstances are usually the grounds for modifying child support orders under Texas law.
Parents in Texas cannot petition the court to change a child support order without cause. When the court calculated the initial child support order, they should have taken into account factors like income, how many children the order supports, necessary expenses that reduce income, and how much parenting time each parent gets. If these underlying conditions have not changed, then the court would make the same decision today that they made when the order was initially put in place.
If one of these underlying factors that the court looked at in creating the order has changed, you can often file to have child support orders modified or even terminated. These changes must be “material” and “substantial” to justify modifying an order. The “material” component merely means that the change affects the outcome of the child support calculation, while “substantial” means that the change must be big enough to have an effect that is worth changing the order for. This means that a financial change that ultimately does not touch on the child support calculation – such as paying for sudden vehicle repairs – might not justify modifying the order, and changes in amount that are under $100 or 20% of the total child support amount are not usually considered “substantial.”
Even if there is no proof of material or substantial changes, orders can always be modified to help pay for a child’s medical expenses or for changes in health or dental insurance coverage.
Examples of Grounds for Modifying Child Support in Houston
There are many examples of “substantial and material changes” that can justify having a child support order modified. Remember that the initial calculation for child support amounts is based on factors like how many children the order supports, how much income each parent has, what necessary expenses they pay, and how much parenting time each parent gets. If any of these factors change, then the child support order might be ripe for modification. The following are all examples of changes that could be material and substantial for child support modification:
- Either parent gets a new job or promotion
- Either parent acquires a medical condition that increases their expenses
- The parenting time split is substantially changed or one parent loses joint custody (e.g., if a joint managing conservatorship is changed to a sole managing conservatorship)
- Either parent gains or loses health insurance coverage for the children
- A child acquires a health condition that needs additional support
- Either parent’s necessary expenses go up significantly.
Child support orders can also be modified or terminated if a child affected by the order has passed away. Orders can be terminated if the child is adopted by a stepparent, joins the military, gets married, turns 18 and graduates from high school, or becomes emancipated.
Filing for a Child Support Order Modification in Houston
When you file to have a child support order modified in Houston, your lawyer will file the petition and the other parent will need to be served with notice of the case and be given an opportunity to be heard. In many cases, courts will schedule a child support hearing where they will essentially repeat the steps of what happened in the initial child support case. This means they will listen to evidence of both sides’ financial situations and expenses, then they will calculate the value that child support should be set at using these current factors. If the parties have set up an agreement, they can usually present their own agreement instead of relying on the court’s determinations.
It is important to understand that the court order for child support is in effect until the court changes or terminates it. This means that any attempts to pay a lower amount or stop child support payments without court authorization could count as violations of the court order and could result in enforcement, including wage garnishment, civil contempt, the inability to renew vehicle registrations, and more.
Call Our Houston Child Support Modification Attorneys for a Free Case Consultation
If you are paying or receiving child support and there have been underlying financial or situational changes that you think support changing the child support order currently in place, talk to an Arlington, TX family law attorney at The Queenan Law Firm. Our Houston child support modification lawyers represent parents in child support cases and fight to have child support orders and agreements corrected and terminated to help our clients and their children. For a free case consultation, call us today at (817) 476-1797.