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How to Modify a Child Support Order in Texas


An agreement in the child support in Texas depends upon the age of the child or children and other certain circumstances at the time of the parents’ divorce. Therefore, it is to be expected that the agreement between the parents with regard child support will need some modifications  at least once during its effectivity. The modification enables the parties to take into consideration changes in the situation and circumstances of the children, the co-parents, or both.

Acceptable Situations of Modification of the Child Support Order

Texas Law provides two situations where modification of the child support order is acceptable.

  1. No adjustments made for three years. If the support order and the agreement have been in place for at least three (3) years without any adjustments, and the support amount given every month under statutory guidelines of the Family Code of Texas would change more than 20% or at least $100, then the parties can file a petition to amend the agreement.
  2. Material and substantial change in circumstances. This situation is given a lot more fanfare rather than importance and attention. This is due to the fact that a material and substantial change in circumstances is a case-to-case basis and it also poses a highly fact-specific question.

These are situations accepted by the state’s law but the court still has the ability to decide on whether the changes or modifications care indeed acceptable.

Legal standards to change child support order

The following things are needed to prove that a modification, is in fact necessary.

  1. The situation of the child and/or a conservator or other person affected by the order have changed materially and substantiall;
  2. A least three (3) years have passed since the last child support order, and the difference between the new order and the previous order would be by at least 20% or $100.

Meaning of Material and Substantial Change in Circumstance

The Family Code of Texas does not provide for certain circumstances that would be considered as material and substantial changes that would result into a child support modification. The following changed circumstances, however, are the most common and often asserted by the party who is seeking for the of the child support order:

  1. Loss of employment;
  2. The child’s living arrangements have changed;
  3. Increase or decrease in income;
  4. A child’s living arrangements have changed
  5. Changes in medical insurance or coverage; and
  6. Special needs of the child such as medical, educational or psychological.

A change in the amount of the child support to be paid does not retroact to the date that the modification in circumstance occurred. Simply put, there is no increase or decrease in the amount of the support to be paid automatically just because a change in circumstances or situation happened. Hence, it is important to discuss this with a lawyer as soon as a change in circumstance has happened to enable the petitioner to determine his/her rights.

When modifying or changing your support order, it is best to contact a lawyer. Support is something your child is entitled to. The market and the needs of your child continually change. There is nothing wrong with modifications whenever necessary.

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Mr. Hutton is a Divorce and Custody Lawyer based out of Round Rock, TX. His background is with child psychology at Arizona State University where he received a B.S. in 2006, and he continued this by working with the Children’s Right’s Clinic at the University of Texas School of Law where he received his J.D. in 2009. Throughout his practice, he has been a strong proponent of utilizing modern technology to improve his practice and the representation of his clients. He currently is the technology chair of CAFA of Travis County and is committed to improving and modernizing the practice of law in Texas. If you have any questions you can contact him at timothy.hutton@austintexaslegal.com

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