Child support is an important part of making sure that Texas children are provided for by both parents, even after a divorce or breakup. However, a child support order is based on the economic circumstances of the parents, and it can seem impossible to keep up with support payments after some kinds of changes to one parent’s life. A job loss, disability or other circumstances may affect that parent’s ability to pay their existing child support obligations. Without a modification to the child support order, their original obligation would remain in place no matter how much their circumstances may have changed.
Criteria for requesting a child support modification
A review or modification of a child support order may be one solution for parents facing significant changes in their life after the order was put into place. In order to be eligible for a modification, the order must have been more than three years old, and the order in place must differ by at least $100 or 20% from the amount that would be awarded. However, parents may also seek a child support modification if they have experienced a material and substantial change in their circumstances no matter when the order was set or the potential difference involved.
Material and substantial change
A material and substantial change in circumstances apply to an increase or decrease in the non-custodial parent’s income, the birth or adoption of additional children or a change in the child’s medical coverage. If the children are now primarily living with a different parent than they were when the order was put in place, this can also be grounds for modifications of child support.
While parents may come to an agreement between themselves, it is important to note that this is not an official child support modification. Instead, a modification can be legally pursued through the Child Support Review Process, a negotiated agreement or a review in court.