Because of how burdensome child support payments can be, it is common for a former spouse who is paying child support to ask for the amount to be modified after a few years. Alternatively, a former spouse who is receiving child support may ask for more money later if a child’s needs have increased in some way.
How often are these requests granted, though? There is not a lot of hard data on this issue, but in order to get your support agreement changed, you must prove a material change in circumstances of either parent or the minor child. This change does not include changes brought on by time, such as starting high school.
Below you will find more detailed information on how child support payments are calculated, how you can ask for a child support order to be modified, and how a lawyer can help you make your case to the courts. If you want additional information, contact the Bedford, TX, family law attorneys at Hargrave Law, P.C.
How the Courts Calculate Child Support Payments
While spouses have some leeway to set their own terms for child support payments in Texas (assuming the spouses can behave civilly toward each other), the family court judge overseeing the divorce is the one who has the final say. Child support is nearly always paid by the noncustodial parent, and according to the Texas Family Code, the baseline amount for child support payments is
- One child – 20 percent of the paying spouse’s net resources
- Two children – 25 percent of the paying spouse’s net resources
- Three children – 30 percent of the paying spouse’s net resources
- Four children – 35 percent of the paying spouse’s net resources
- Five children – 40 percent of the paying spouse’s net resources
- Six or more children – No less than the amount for five children
To calculate the paying spouse’s “net resources,” the courts will look at the paying spouse’s wages and available assets, along with other factors like:
- Their job history and job skills
- Their education
- Their age and health
- Their criminal history
- Any potential barriers to employment
- Their record of looking for work
- Fringe benefits at work
To make sure the amount a former spouse pays in child support is fair, they may also examine a few other factors, including:
- The child’s age and needs
- The ability of each parent to provide for the child
- How much time each parent will spend with the child
After taking all these elements into consideration, the judge will issue a final divorce order that includes instructions for child support payments. Child support payments are usually made monthly, though other arrangements can be made in certain circumstances.
How Long Do Child Support Payments Last?
In general, you are required to continue making child support payments until the child has graduated from high school and turns 18 years old.
How Do You Modify a Child Support Order?
You can only legally change a child support order by filing a petition with the courts. Even if your spouse agrees to the change, it must be approved by a judge. Otherwise, the spouse paying child support could wind up in legal trouble.
Before a judge will modify a child support order, the party filing the petition must show that there has been a “material and substantial” change in the circumstances of the child or one of the other parties affected by the order. You can also ask for a modification if at least three years have passed or if there has been a change in the payor’s circumstances so that a new calculation of support would result in a change of either 20 percent or $100.
Our Bedford Child Support Lawyers Can Help You Get a Court Order Changed
If you want a child support order changed, you will likely need help from an experienced family law attorney to make that happen. Our child support attorneys can help you find the evidence you need to make a strong case before the judge, and we will make sure your petition is filed correctly to reduce the chance of technical or bureaucratic delays.
Still have questions about how to modify a child support order in Texas? Call Hargrave Law, P.C. today at 817-282-0679 or visit our contact page for a consultation.