Texas Child Support Modification and Enforcement: Answers to FAQs
In Texas, there are strict limits on when parents can petition for a modification of child support. There are also strict penalties for violating child support orders. Learn what you need to know if you cannot meet your child support obligations or if your former spouse is refusing to pay.
McKinney child support modification attorney J. Ryan Nordhaus answers five common questions about post-divorce child support issues.
Q: I lost my job. Can I stop paying child support until I go back to work?
No. In Texas, losing your job is not an excuse to stop paying child support. In fact, it is not necessarily even grounds to seek modification of a child support order. Unless sufficient time has passed (more on this below), it is only possible to modify child support based upon a material change of circumstances. While a judge might be willing to consider your loss of employment, you will likely need to present additional evidence justifying your request for modification as well.
Q: Iím not making as much as I used to. Can I apply for a modification of child support?
Maybe. If you have been paying child support for three years or longer and, based on your current income, your monthly payment would change by at least 20 percent or $100 under Texasís child support guidelines, you can file a petition for modification. If it has been less than three years, you will need to be able to convince a judge that your pay cut or job transition constitutes a sufficient change in circumstances.
Q: My former spouse is not letting me see my children. Can I stop paying child support?
No. Even if your former spouse is violating a court order by refusing to respect your visitation rights, you cannot stop paying child support. This is a situation where two wrongs do not make a right. Instead, you should consult an attorney and file a petition for enforcement if necessary.
Q: My former spouse has stopped paying child support. Can I deny visitation?
No. This is the inverse of the previous question, and the answer is the same. Denying visitation is likely to only make matters worse, both in terms of your family circumstances and in terms of your legal rights.
Q: Is it okay for my former spouse and I to agree to a modification of child support?
Unfortunately, no. In Texas, even when former spouses are on the same page due to a material change in circumstances, any child support modifications are still subject to court approval. You (or your former spouse) will need to file a petition in court, and you will need to ensure that your proposed modification complies with the requirements of Texas law.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR: J. Ryan Nordhaus
Mr. Nordhaus is a child support modification attorney and a partner at the McKinney, TX law firm of Nordhaus Walpole, PLLC. He has been representing clients in divorces since 2003, and he is Board Certified by the Texas Board of Legal Specialization Ė Family Law.
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Disclaimer: While every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy of this publication, it is not intended to provide legal advice as individual situations will differ and should be discussed with an expert and/or lawyer. For specific technical or legal advice on the information provided and related topics, please contact the author.