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Changing a Texas child support order

When parents divorce, the courts try to create a child support plan that covers the needs of children while still being affordable for the paying parent.

However, as children grow and ex-spouses move on with their separate lives, both children’s needs and a parent’s ability to provide financial support may change. When this happens, either parent may ask that the court review and possibly modify the current support order.

When can parents ask for a support review?

Generally, parents can ask for a child support review if it has been at least three years since the current order went into effect. The courts may agree to modify payment amounts if Texas’ child support guidelines would award a significantly higher or lower amount.

A parent can also request a review if there has been a material and substantial change in life circumstances.

What are examples of substantial life changes?

Examples of life changes that the court may consider important enough to justify support modification include:

  • A change in which parent has custody
  • A change in a child/children’s health care coverage or affordability
  • A major increase or decrease in the noncustodial parent’s income
  • A noncustodial parent’s responsibilities for additional children
  • Military deployment

Parents should know that they must seek approval for child support payment changes through either the review process or a court hearing. A support agreement is not legally enforceable without court approval, and the paying parent may face legal penalties, including loss of driver’s license and/or passport, wage garnishment and possible jail time.