Parents must comply with the terms of a child support arrangement when they get divorced. Under this agreement, the parent without custody – the so-called nonconservator parent – must pay support to the conservator parent.
But, over time, things can change, such as loss of employment or other events, prompting either parent to return to court to ask for a child support modification. These changes may be temporary or permanent.
Reasons to ask for a modification
Like most states, Texas establishes child support payments during the divorce process. Courts typically set payments that ensure children receive the same support level as before the divorce. To change the original order, parents must prove to the court that their financial situation has changed. Factors considered include:
- Reduced income: Parents whose pay is cut or those who become unemployed may not meet their support obligations and can ask for a lower payment. Conservators can also ask for more support from the other parent when their earnings drop or cease.
- Increased responsibilities: When costs related to caring for the child increase, conservators can also request increased support. This can happen when a child needs braces, or costs rise for tuition or extra-curricular activities.
- Family responsibilities: Nonconservator parents may request a lower payment when they remarry and become stepparents or have additional biological children while their income is the same and becomes further stretched.
- Inheritance or increased income: Either parent may request a change when learning that an ex-spouse received a significant pay raise or was the recipient of a large amount of money.
Permanent vs. temporary modifications
Courts may approve child support modifications depending upon whether they consider the reasons valid and determine whether the change in payments will be short- or long-term. For example, a one-time payment may be ordered to pay for braces for the child.
Permanent modifications can be granted when the child’s additional needs are significant and will likely continue. This may include a special needs child, where increased expenses for care are permanent. Whatever the ruling, courts always prioritize the needs of the child.
Modification requests reflect new circumstances
Regardless of which parent requests the child support modification, it’s crucial to work with an experienced family law attorney. Disputes over support payments can be emotionally and financially draining on families.
When your lifestyle or employment situation changes, your child support should be in tune with your current circumstances. A knowledgeable lawyer can help provide the necessary balance, so your child receives the care he or she needs and deserves.