Financial circumstances can change over time. Texas law has taken this into account in allowing for the modification of the amount of child support ordered when one or both parents’ financial circumstances change.
A request to modify a child support order can be filed by either the person entitled to receive support for the child or by the person obligated to pay support.
REQUIREMENTS FOR A MODIFICATION
In order for a modification to be approved by the court, the person requesting the modification must prove that a substantial change in circumstances has made the modification necessary.
Such changes could include:
- Loss of employment
- Disability of either a parent or the child
- A promotion
- A second job
- The birth or adoption of a new child
OPTIONS FOR MODIFICATION
Modification of the court order could result in the child support amount being increased or decreased.
A modification could also allow the court to determine that the child support obligation should be terminated entirely. This typically occurs when one or all of the parties’ children have met the legal requirements to be considered an adult, such as turning eighteen years old.
In some instances, a modification could result in the court extending the time period when the parent required to pay child support is ordered to do so. This can happen when the child appears to have a physical or mental condition that will prevent them from living independently as an adult, meaning that a parent will need to continue to provide care for the child after they are eighteen years old.
AGREEMENTS ARE NOT ORDERS
While it may be possible for you to reach an agreement regarding the modification of child support with your child’s other parent, it is extremely important to obtain a new court order for the modified amount of child support. Failing to do so can come with unfortunate consequences.
If you are ordered to pay child support, the amount ordered is the amount that the court will require you to pay until a modification has been finalized. Even if your child’s other parent has agreed to accept a lower amount for child support than was previously court ordered, you are still legally required to pay the court ordered amount and can be held accountable for failure to do so despite that agreement. Not only could you be ordered to pay the full amount of your court ordered child support, you could also be required to pay interest on any unpaid portion.
Conversely, if you are receiving child support and your child’s other parent has agreed to pay a higher amount of than the previous court order requires them to pay for child support, they are not legally obligated to do so, and could stop paying at any time if an official court order is not entered.
An agreement is not official until a final court order granting the requests of the parties is signed by the judge.