is It Illegal to Modify Child Support in Texas? Here’s What the Law Says

Child support is a legal obligation that parents have to provide for the financial needs of their children. In Texas, child support orders are determined by the court based on the Texas Family Code Child Support Guidelines, which take into account the income of both parents, the number of children, and other factors.

However, life is not always predictable, and sometimes parents may experience changes in their circumstances that affect their ability to pay or receive child support. In this article, we will explain when and how child support can be modified in Texas, and what the consequences are for failing to comply with the court order.

When can child support be modified in Texas?

In Texas, child support can only be modified if one (or more) of the following conditions is met:

It has been at least three years since the last child support order was established or modified, AND the monthly amount of child support owed, calculated under the Texas Family Code Child Support Guidelines, has changed by at least 20 percent or $100. This means that if the non-custodial parent’s net income has changed significantly, either up or down, and the amount of child support owed will increase or decrease by at least $100 or 20 percent per month, then either parent can request a modification of child support.

A material and substantial change in circumstances has occurred since the last child support order. This means that if a parent can show that there has been a significant change in their situation or the child’s situation, such as a job loss, a pay cut, a promotion, a remarriage, a birth of another child, a change in medical insurance coverage, or a change in living arrangements, then they can request a modification of child support at any time, regardless of the three-year requirement.

How can child support be modified in Texas?

In Texas, there are two ways to modify child support in Texas:

The Child Support Review Process (CSRP) with the Texas Attorney General’s Office. This is a faster and simpler way to modify child support, where both parents agree to the change and work with a child support officer to review their financial information and sign a new child support order. This process does not require a court hearing or a lawyer, but it is only available if both parents cooperate and meet certain eligibility criteria.

A court hearing (usually with a private attorney). This is a more formal and complex way to modify child support, where one parent files a petition to modify child support with the court and serves the other parent with a copy. The other parent can either agree or contest the modification, and the case will be scheduled for a hearing before a judge. This process may require a lawyer, evidence, witnesses, and fees, and it can take longer and be more expensive than the CSRP.

What are the consequences of not modifying child support in Texas?

Until a court approves a request for modification, it is illegal to pay less, not pay at all, or engage in delay tactics. Parents must stay current and comply with the court order to avoid serious consequences, such as:

An enforcement action from the other parent or the Texas Attorney General’s Office, which can result in wage garnishment, liens, license suspension, contempt of court, fines, or jail time.

Being forced to pay interest, back payments, and attorney’s fees, which can increase the amount of debt and make it harder to catch up.

Damaging the relationship with the child and the other parent, which can affect the child’s well-being and the parent’s rights.

Conclusion

Child support is a legal obligation that parents have to provide for the financial needs of their children. In Texas, child support orders are determined by the court based on the Texas Family Code Child Support Guidelines, but they can be modified if there is a change in the parent’s or the child’s circumstances.

Parents can request a modification of child support through the Child Support Review Process or a court hearing, but they must continue to pay the current amount until the court approves the change. Failing to comply with the court order can have serious legal, financial, and personal consequences. Therefore, parents should always communicate with each other and seek legal advice if they have any questions or issues regarding child support modification in Texas.

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