How and When to Change the Amount of Child Support Payments in Texas
Only a court can modify child support payments in Texas. There are two ways you can initiate a request for child support modification. First, you can go directly to the court and request the desired modification. Second, and often a little quicker, you can request the modification through the Child Support Division of the Texas Attorney General, who evaluates modification requests via the Child Support Review Process (CSRP).
The law only permits modification of ordered child support payments in Texas under two circumstances. First, child support can be modified if at least three years have passed since the last child support order and the new requested amount is at least 20% or $100 different from the previously ordered child support.
A child support payment modification can also be requested if there has been a “material and substantial” change in circumstances since the last child support order. Courts and the Attorney General’s Office will generally look for one of the following circumstances in order to find a “material and substantial” change in circumstances:
An increase or decrease in the noncustodial parent’s income;
A change in medical insurance coverage that affects the children;
The children’s living arrangements change; or
The noncustodial parent has become legally responsible for more children.
One of the most common circumstances that creates a “material or substantial” change that warrants a child support modification is that the noncustodial parent loses their job, or either is deployed to or returns from active duty military service. If one of these circumstances happens to you, remember that only a court can change the child support you are obligated to pay. You cannot simply begin paying a lower amount on your own and you cannot simply agree with the other parent to pay a new amount. This means that even if you have lost your job or suffered a significant loss of income, you are still legally obligated to pay the court ordered child support amount until a new order is issued changing that amount.
The easiest way to request modification of a child support order is to complete a Request for Review” form and a “Child Support Review Questionnaire” and submit these documents to the child support office that handles your case. You can find the forms and locate the correct child support office at http://www.texasattorneygeneral.gov/. The only other way to request a modification is to file the request directly with the court.
Finally, if the custodial parent lives in a state other than Texas and the child support order was originally issued in that state, you will have to follow that state’s process for requesting a modification.
If you need help regarding child support payments in Texas, you can text or call the America Family Law Center.