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How can a parent modify a child support order in Texas?

On Behalf of | Mar 25, 2024 | Family Law |

When a couple separates, and when they have children separates, courts in Texas often grant custody of the child to one parent and the other parent has visitation rights, unless, of course, circumstances demand otherwise. Child support too is determined at that time based on the child’s or children’s needs and the incomes of both parents.

However, as time passes after that initial child support order, it is often seen that the circumstances have changed and the child support amount requires a modification. In Texas, a parent needs to file a child support modification request with the Office of the Attorney General, which administers the state’s child support program.

Eligibility for child support modification

According to Texas laws, a parent can request modification of a child support order only if one, or more, of the following conditions are met:

  • First, the child support order that is in force now was either established or modified at least three years ago.
  • Second, the monthly child support amount differs by either 20 percent or $100 from the amount that current child support guidelines mandate.
  • Third, there has been a “material and substantial change” in circumstances since the last order, which now warrants a modification.

Here, “material and substantial change” means that the noncustodial parent’s income has increased or decreased; the noncustodial parent has responsibilities for additional children; the children’s medical insurance coverage has changed; or the children receiving the support are now living with a different parent.

Changing a child support order in Texas

In Texas, there are two ways in which a child support order is modified. The first is an in-office meeting where parents meet and negotiate a modification. This is known as the Child Support Review Process, or CSRP. The other way is through a hearing in court.

Important to note here, though, is that an informal agreement between parents to modify child support does not change the original court-ordered amount. Only a CSRP or a court hearing can change that amount.