How to Raise or Lower your Child Support
Whether you want to raise or lower your child support, there are certain
rules you must follow according to the Texas Family Code in order to get
your change approved by the court.
Court must approve ALL modifications to child support
This is one of the biggest problems I run into in family law. For some
reason, people think that they can just make an agreement with the other
parent to raise, lower, or stop their
child support without first getting the
court to approve the change. The problem usually plays out with the 2
parents, during a period of happy cooperation, deciding on their own to
stop or lower the child support that is owed. Then, when the parent that
is owed the support becomes agitated at some point in time in the future,
that parent runs to the court to ask for the parent that owes child support
to be held in
contempt of court for not paying the court ordered amount.
Clients are always stunned when they learn that this previous verbal agreement
is not worth the paper it was written on, and they are going to be in
trouble with the court for not following the court order.
If you need to hire a
Pasadena Texas Child Support Lawyer,
contact Dennis M Slate today.
When can I file to Raise/ Lower my Child Support Amount?
1) Three-Year Rule
There are 2 primary grounds that allow for the
modification of child support in the family code. The first is what is commonly known as the “Three-Year
Rule.” The Three-year rule says that you are allowed to file for
a modification of your child support, if 3 years has passed since your
support amount was either set in the divorce decree or was last modified,
AND the new amount of support that should be paid currently differs by
at least 20% or $100 from what is in the previous child support order.
Although it is not mandatory for the court to modify child support under
this provision, I have rarely seen a court refuse to modify once the factors
One caveat to the three-year rule is that if your previous child support
order is based on an agreement whereby your child support amount was either
higher or lower than guideline child support would have been at that time,
then the three year rule is not available for use in applying to modify
the support amount.
2) Material and Substantial Change in Circumstances
If the three-year rule does not apply to your situation, you can still
petition the court for a change in support amount if you can show that
since the last court order there has been a material and substantial change
in the circumstances of either the child or of a person
affected by the order. There is not a set list of what is a material and substantial
change, but here is a list of circumstances that have been found by courts
to qualify for a change in child support amount under this provision.
A change in custody of the child or children – if custody changes so will the support.
A finding that a man is not the biological father of the child – a new Texas law now allows for support to be stopped if a paternity
tests later shows a man is not the father
A change in the child’s residence and care provided – if a child moves out of the parent’s home to live with a
boyfriend or girlfriend, then that is a substantial change and support
should be stopped.
A Change in the child’s needs – if the
necessary expenses of the child changes, like clothes, supplies, and extra-curricular
activities increase. If the child care expenses have substantially increased
A Change in a parent’s financial circumstances – an increase or decrease in a parent’s income and ability
to support the child. To prove this factor, the parent requesting the
change must show what the financial circumstances of the paying parent
or child were at the time of the order and also what has changed.
Change in costs to exercise possession – if one parent never exercises their visitation and therefore increases
the child care costs of the other parent, this is a material change. If
the custodial parent moves hundreds of miles away from the other parent,
the non-moving parent can ask to have their support reduced because of
the increased costs.
To conclude, all
modifications must be approved by the court and the three-year rule must apply or there
must have been a material and substantial change in circumstances in order
to change your child support payment amount.
If any of these provisions apply to you and you would like to talk with an
experienced child support lawyer; give me a call or
send me an email today.
Here at the
Dennis M. Slate, Attorney at Law, we offer a full range of family law and legal services including
child custody and
grandparent visitation and
custody, etc. We have
3 Houston area locations including Deer Park, Houston, and Porter, Texas. Call our offices today
and we can set an appointment with an attorney: (281) 407-9254.