When Can Parents Modify Child Support Agreements?
If you and a former partner have children, you probably have a child support agreement. Under the law, parents must contribute to their child’s food, shelter, clothing, medical care and education until the child is 18 or leaves high school, whichever happens last.
As children grow, their needs change. Similarly, as life progresses, situations change. A child support agreement that worked well when a child was a toddler might not meet the child’s needs when they are a teen. A parent’s financial situation might change, making a modification to a child support agreement necessary or appropriate.
If you find that an agreement with your former partner no longer works for any reason, consult one of our talented Houston child support modification attorneys at Angela Faye Brown & Associates. They can help change the arrangement to meet everyone’s needs.
Standard Support Formula In Houston
In general, noncustodial parents in Texas must pay support to the parent who provides the child’s primary residence. Support is owed regardless of visitation and the quality of the paying parent’s relationship with the child.
Courts typically use a formula to calculate support payments. The noncustodial parent often pays 20% of their adjusted income toward the support of one child. The percentage directed toward child support goes up for each additional child.
A noncustodial parent who is a full-time student or becomes unemployed must still pay child support. A court might order a parent in this situation to pay an amount calculated on the earnings from working 40 hours per week at a minimum wage job even if the parent is earning nothing. Courts always put the child’s needs first and expect a parent to take whatever steps are necessary to take care of their children. Our dedicated lawyers can explain the standard child support formula and the circumstances under which it could be changed.
When Is A Modification Order Appropriate?
The law allows parents to apply for a child support modification if they experience a “material” alteration in their situation or circumstances. The change need not be extreme to merit modifying the child support order. For example, perhaps the noncustodial parent was responsible for providing health insurance to the child, but the other parent started a new job with better benefits. It might be best for the parents to modify the agreement so that the custodial parent enrolls the child on their insurance, and the noncustodial parent pays more in monthly support.
Other situations could lead to a need to modify a child support agreement. For example, modification might be appropriate when a:
- Parent becomes disabled
- Child displays a particular interest or talent that requires more funds
- Parent has more children
- Parent has a windfall, such as a lottery win or an inheritance
- Child develops significant medical or mental health needs
- Parent experiences a change in employment status
In many cases, parents who experience changes in circumstances can work out a modification agreement without going to court. The Texas attorney general is responsible for child support enforcement, and the office has an informal review process to modify child support agreements. One of our motivated Houston family attorneys can help a parent seeking changes to their child support prepare their application for review.
Seeking Child Support Alterations In Court
Sometimes, parents cannot agree on a modification. In such cases, they could seek recourse in the courts to have a judge enter an order modifying their child support agreement.
Parents have the legal right to seek modification of the order if more than three years have passed since the original order or the last modification. The parent seeking modification must show a change in circumstances that justifies the modification. Our proactive attorneys in Houston can compile evidence of changed circumstances that supports an adjustment to child support.
It is important to note that modifications are not retroactive. Suppose a noncustodial parent received a raise a year ago but did not agree to increase the amount of child support they pay. When the other parent seeks a modification of support, the court may award an increase in payments but only from the date of the court’s order.
Contact An Experienced Attorney Today
Arguing about paying for your child’s needs is distressing. It might create tension with your former partner and impact your child’s sense of being wanted, cherished and loved. You can take some of the raw emotion out of the process by allowing one of our Houston child support modification lawyers to handle it.
Keeping your child’s needs foremost is our guiding principle. Call Angela Faye Brown & Associates in Houston at 713-714-3710 as soon as you realize that your child support order is no longer meeting your child’s needs. You may also contact us online.