In Texas, the legislature provides the court with a set of guidelines that must be used when determining child support. The guidelines vary based on the noncustodial parent’s net monthly income. The support amount is not set in stone, however. Unforeseen events and circumstances may arise whereby the noncustodial parent’s obligation to pay support can be increased or lessened. If proper circumstances warrant a change, the party can ask the court to enter a new support order.
Determine if you have grounds to modify the support order. According to the Texas Attorney General Office, the court can modify a support order if there is a “material and substantial change of circumstances” or if three years have passed since the last order. If you are seeking to modify the support order because three years have passed, the monthly support order must differ “by either 20 percent or $100 from the amount that would be awarded in accordance with the child support guidelines."
Draft a petition to modify the support order. The petition must explain to the court why modification is necessary. For instance, if you are alleging a change of circumstances, you must describe that change. According to the Legal Aid of NorthWest Texas (LANWT), Texas courts consider marriage to another person, change of residence, change in medical condition, change in employment and criminal history as substantial changes of circumstance. Due to the sensitive nature of this document, it is strongly recommended that you seek assistance from an attorney to help you write this document.
File the petition in the Texas court that has jurisdiction over the child. This is usually the court that first handed down the support order. If the child lives in a different county than the original Texas court, you may need to file your petition in that county. Send a copy of the petition to the other parent or guardian of the child.
Attend the hearing scheduled by the court to resolve the matter. According to LANWT, if the other party agrees to the change the modification process can be handled relatively quickly. If there is a dispute, however, a trial may be necessary to determine if modification is warranted.