When the parents of a minor child get divorced or no longer live together, the law in the State of Texas requires both parents to continue to financially support the child. That typically means that one parent is ordered to pay child support to the other parent. If you are the parent receiving child support (payee) you may reach a point at which you feel that support amount should be increased. Dallas child support lawyer Rita M. Boyd discusses how you may be able to get an increase in your child support.
Child Support Basics in Texas
An initial child support amount is usually determined as part of a divorce or paternity action. That child support determination is considered a final order of the court, meaning that the payor is required to pay as ordered or risk sanctions for violating the court’s order. Unlike most final court orders, however, orders relating to child support (as well as other issues related to minor children) are commonly modified after the initial order is entered by the court.
Modifying Child Support in Texas
Because the parties to a child support order frequently wish to modify that order, the State of Texas has established guidelines for when and how a child support order can be modified. Child support may be modified in Texas if at least one of the following applies:
- At least three years have elapsed since the child support order was entered or modified by the court AND the current monthly amount of the child support order differs by either (a) 20% or (b) $100 from the amount that would be awarded, according to child support guidelines. OR
- There has been a material and substantial change in circumstances since the most recent child support order was entered.
If It Has Been Three Years Since the Existing Order Was Entered
If the first prong of the child support modification test applies – meaning it has been at least 3 years since the existing order was entered – you still need to consider whether your requested modification would meet the monetary portion of that test. In other words, would the increase you seek amount to an increase of at least $100 monthly or 20 percent of the existing order. If you only have one child, you are entitled to 20 percent of the payor’s net monthly income. If you know the payor’s current income, you can use that to determine if a modification would increase your child support by the required $100 or 20 percent.
What Is a “Material and Substantial Change in Circumstances?”
If you are relying on the “material and substantial change in circumstances” prong of the modification eligibility test, you need to know what that phrase means in the eyes of the law. While there may be other circumstances that also qualify, the most common situations that qualify as a material and substantial change in circumstances are:
- The noncustodial parent’s income has increased or decreased.
- The noncustodial parent is legally responsible for additional children.
- The child’s medical insurance coverage has changed.
- The child is now living with a different parent.
How Do I Get My Child Support Increased?
It is possible to request a child support review and modification through the Texas Attorney General’s Office. That route, however, can be time consuming and stressful for a parent trying to navigate the system alone. The better option is to consult with an experienced Texas child support attorney who can often move the process along faster and with far less stress on you.
Contact a Dallas Child Support Lawyer
If you have additional questions or concerns about increasing child support in Texas, contact experienced Dallas child support lawyer Rita M. Boyd, P.C. to discuss your legal rights and options by calling 972-380-8000 to schedule your appointment today.