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Can I Modify My Texas Child Support Orders to Make Lower Payments?

Posted on in Custody

There are many instances in which an individual will seek to lower child support payments, such as the loss of a job, an increase in expenses, the birth of a new child, or the fact that they have the shared child more often than the other parent. Whatever your reason for wanting to lower your child support in Dallas, Texas, you must follow the Texas Family Code and get the change approved by the court before any change in payment is made - even if you and your child's other parent come to a mutual agreement regarding the lower amount. Many individuals find it helpful to have an experienced family law attorney on their side to help come up with a reasonable child support order that will benefit all parties involved.

The Court Must Approve all Modifications to Child Support Orders

According to the Texas Family Code, Chapter 156, there are two circumstances in which a modification to child support will be granted:

  • If the circumstances of the child or person(s) affected by the order have substantially changed, or
  • It has been three years since the order was last rendered or modified, and the new amount differs by 20% or 100 dollars from the previous child support order.

The only instance in which a modification to existing child support orders will be granted outside of those two circumstances is to provide medical or dental coverage if the existing order does not provide either (Sec. 156.401., (a-2)).

A lot of parents take it upon themselves to modify child support payments without going through the courts. In same cases, a parent with 50% custody feels that they should not have to pay the court ordered amount, and so makes lower than required payments. In others, both parties agree to lower the payments, and decide to skip the hassle of going to court by making and receiving payments 'under the table.' In the worst-case scenarios, individuals do not pay at all because of a substantial change in circumstances. No matter the reason for the modification, however, if the changes do not go through the Texas courts, and if you are not making the required payments, you can get into a lot of trouble.

In the event that you fail to make the required child support payments, the Office of Attorney General (OAG) can take several actions. The first is to seize your financial assets, such as your bank accounts, liquid or cash resources, tax refund, personal property, or even your income. If you do not have any monetary assets for them to collect, the OAG can suspend your driver's license or professional license - such as to practice medicine or law -place a hold on your passport, or hold you in contempt of court, which could result in jail time.

I cannot emphasize this point enough: They will take one or all of these actions even if you and the other party agreed to a change in payment amount. That is why it is so important to take any and all desired modifications to your child support orders back to the courts for review and final judgment.

Delinquent Child Support Payments Do Not Go Away

Unlike most aspects of the law, there is no statute of limitations regarding child support payments in Texas. If you have delinquent payments, you will be required to pay them off, even if all of your children emancipate. If you do not make the payments, you will be subject to the same enforcement measures as mentioned above.

Many individuals who lower their child support payments without going through the courts, or who pay 'under the table,' find that once their children become adults, they still have a large child support debt. This is because, according to the courts, they either were not making payments at all, or they were not paying the full amount. To avoid having to pay more than necessary, for far longer than necessary, we recommend hiring an experienced child support attorney to help you present your case to the Texas courts so that you can legally lower your child support bill.

Get Legal Help From an Experienced Child Support Attorney

At the Clark Law Group, we understand that life happens, and that your circumstances today may be very different from what they were three years ago. Our goal as your Dallas child support lawyers is to evaluate your change in circumstances, come up with a child support order that you can afford, and present it to the judge so that we can achieve the best possible outcome for you and your child. If you want to lower your child support payments, contact our Dallas area post judgment attorneys at 469-906-2266 or online today.

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