Child support payments are an important bill to have each month. After all, you want to make sure that your children are doing alright even when you aren’t around them. But the way the system we have in place for them works isn’t always the smoothest. After all, setting something down in concrete and then walking away from it doesn’t capture the always evolving and changing nature of our lives.
Life throws curveballs at us all in the form of getting fired or hired, having more children, or any number of things. When our lives are affected in this manner, it only makes sense that our ability to keep up with our child support payments isn’t a guarantee. That’s why there are ways in place to allow for a modification of a child support order.
But getting a modification is tricky. To see why we’ll have to take a closer look at when a modification is allowed. After that, we can learn about requesting and getting a modification. We’ll also talk about the uncertain nature of how your child support payments will change and why it’s useful to have a helping hand on your side for that.
When Is a Child Support Order Modification Possible?
In order to have a child support order modified, you must first meet one of the following criteria to establish that you are eligible. If you are not eligible then it is, unfortunately, a waste of time to try to seek a modification of your child support order.
The three criteria for seeking a child support order modification are:
- Time: You can request a child support modification if the order was established more than three years ago. and/or
- Differences: Another way that you could get your child support order modified is if the amount that you are ordered to pay differs by either 20% or $100 compared to what would be awarded according to child support guidelines.
- Change: You can seek out a child support order modification if you have experienced a material and substantial change.
So of those three, the last one is a little bit vague. What makes for a material and substantial change? Well, in the eyes of the legal system it means:
- That the noncustodial parent’s income has changed, either increased or decreased
- That the noncustodial parent has become legally responsible for additional children
- That the child’s medical insurance coverage has changed
- That the child has changed homes to live with a different parent than before
A substantial change is any one of these, not every one of these. The first is among the most common reasons to seek a child support order modification as getting fired makes it awfully hard to maintain payments that were calculated with an income you no longer have access to.
How Do I Get a Child Support Order Modified?
If you are comfortable with computers then you can request a child support order modification through the attorney general of texas’ website. Additionally, you may mail in a Request for Review form to the child support division if you would rather fill it out by hand.
It is incredibly important to make note that there are only two ways in which a child support order can be modified. The first is through an in-office negotiation that is known as the Child Support Review Process. The other way is through a court hearing.
What this means is that you can’t modify a child support order in any other fashion. So if you and the other parent both agree that the child support payments you are making are too high and you should be paying lower, it doesn’t matter. You can both agree to this but this is informal and therefore it in no way affects the amount that was ordered by the courts. In order to change a child support order, it must be through a request for modification and then either an in-person meeting or a visit to the court.
How Will My Child Support Payments Change After a Modification?
This is a tough question to answer. In most cases, however, it should be pretty straightforward. For example, if you lose your source of income then chances are quite high that you will see the child support payments required of you decrease.
But this isn’t always the case. There is more that goes into calculating these payments than simply how much you are making. For example, you may have had a decrease in your income and so you expected that your payment would go down a bit. However, there were also some changes in the child’s medical insurance coverage since the last modification. That wasn’t a problem at the time but now that the court is seeing it, they see that the amount you should be paying has actually increased. Even with the change in your income.
This makes it a pretty complicated situation to wrap your head around because there are a lot of factors that need to be weighed.
Do I Need an Attorney to Request a Child Support Payment Modification?
While you do not need to have an attorney represent you in order to request a child support payment modification, it is highly recommended. As we just discussed, these are complicated situations that require a lot of different elements to be weighed so that the perspective of the law can be considered. This isn’t the easiest thing to do if you don’t know how the law generally functions surrounding the topic at hand.
When you work with an attorney, you are getting access to a lifetime spent considering the inner workings of the law and those who are experienced with issues of child support will have a better understanding of what the court wants to see and how much each factor they consider will affect the potential outcome of your child support order modification request.