Guidelines for Modifying Child Support
As discussed under the Modification of Conservatorship tab, the typical modification suit is filed in the same court that the prior order that is the subject of the modification suit was entered in. However, there are numerous exceptions to this rule and cases are subject to mandatory transfers to other counties. The purpose of filing a modification action regarding child support is to either increase or decrease the amount of monthly child support being paid, which also includes issues related to the child's medical support.
Modification of Texas Orders
The modification of Texas order for child support can be modified under the following circumstances:
- More than three years have past since the rendition of the prior order.
- The amount of child support changes by at least 20% or $100 per month of what is currently being ordered to be paid.
- There has been a material and substantial change in circumstances; e.g., the incarceration or release of a parent from prison, a change in conservatorship or the primary residence of the child, or a change in the child’s needs.
Issues that may be addressed in a modification of child support include an order for extending the duration of payments past the child’s 18th birthday; a retroactive application of the modification; changes to the medical support order; or even the application of a security bond if a party’s employer is not subject to a wage withholding order.
Modification of Out of State Child Support Orders
The Uniform Interstate Family Support Act (UIFSA) mandates that a foreign child support order must be registered in the State of Texas before it is subject to modification by a Texas court. Conversely, a foreign child support order that is not registered in Texas cannot be modified by a Texas court. In addition to the registration requirement, it is necessary that the out of state court no longer has continuing and exclusive jurisdiction for the case to be subject to modification by a Texas court. The most common method of another state losing continuing and exclusive jurisdiction occurs when a child has resided in Texas for at least six months prior to the filing of the modification proceeding: The six month provision grants Texas home state status.
In registering a foreign order with a Texas court, the person registering the order must include the following:
- a transmittal letter requesting registration;
- two copies of the order to be registered;
- a sworn statement by the person requesting registration showing the amount of back child support; and
- he name, address, and employer information of the obligor (person obligated to pay child support).
After registering the order, the person who registered the order must inform the other parties of the registration. These parties include the other parent, the attorney general’s office, or other person involved in the order (not the child).
Income earned by either party’s spouse cannot be considered when calculating the net resources available for determining a child support obligation. If the obligor has a new child and has a legal duty to support that child, the court shall consider that child in calculating the child support obligation. The needs of children of the parties’ new spouses are not considered when calculating net resources or a new child support amount unless the obligor is the biological father of any new children or if the obligor has adopted his stepchildren and has a legal duty to support them.
Caveat on Modifications
The content contained within this section is intended to serve as a brief primer on modifications. However, modification suits can be and often are complicated matters, it is strongly advised that you seek legal advise from an attorney if you believe that you will be initiating or defending a modification suit for conservatorship, visitation, or child support.