Child Support Modification Lawyer In Austin

Child Support Modification Lawyer

Life undergoes changes, whether it involves adding a new child to your family, securing a better job, or experiencing a debilitating accident that permanently prevents you from working. If your child custody agreement included court-ordered child support, and you’ve experienced a serious change in your financial circumstances, you may be able to work with your child support lawyer to petition the court for a modification of child support.

However, there is no guarantee of approval for a modification. Texas family law judges typically only grant child support modification if there is a substantial change in the circumstances of either parent. The court must still consider the best interests of the child.

If you believe your child now deserves increased support, or if your financial situation has significantly changed, making it challenging to pay the ordered child support, our lawyers may offer assistance. Contact Smith Family Law today at (512) 277-3166 to talk to a child support modification lawyer in Austin about your situation.

What Is a Child Support Modification Agreement?

Child support orders are court-ordered and typically part of your divorce or custody agreement with the child’s other parent. Texas law permits either parent to request a modification for an existing child support order if one of the parents experiences a significant change in their financial situation.

A child support modification agreement is a legal change to the existing support agreement. It can be worked out between both parents through negotiations or mediation and submitted to a judge, or it may be a court-ordered change if one parent cannot agree to the proposed change in terms.

A family law judge in a Texas family law court hears a petition to modify a child support order. An attorney can help you determine whether your situation qualifies for the modification and guide you through the process.

Common Reasons for Child Support Modification

There are many changes in a parent’s life that may meet the “changed circumstances” requirement for an adjustment in the amount of child support they pay or receive. Some common examples of changed circumstances include:

  • The paying parent’s income has increased substantially. Perhaps they got a new job at a much higher salary. The custodial parent may petition for a higher amount of child support. You can use the Texas Office of the Attorney General’s (OAG) website to get an estimate of what the new child support amount might be.
  • The paying parent suffered an involuntary reduction in their monthly income. Texas law can penalize a noncustodial parent for willful unemployment or underemployment but offers recourse if their income is significantly reduced through no fault of their own. In that case, the parent could petition the court for a reduction in child support commensurate with their current income.
  • The child’s needs changed. Perhaps the child became ill or disabled and required specialized in-home caregiver services. Perhaps the child has been diagnosed with special needs, necessitating specialized education or therapy.
  • There was a change in physical conservatorship or possession and access (custody or visitation). If the parents change their custody agreement, the support arrangements may need to change.
  • The number of children being supported changed. Once a child turns 18, or if they move out or go to college, then there may no longer be a need for support payments for that child.

Child Support Amidst New Relationships

One question that many parents have is whether they can get a reduction in the child support they pay if they have another child with a new partner. Or the custodial parent may petition for an increase in child support if their ex remarries and subsequently has a higher household income.

Even if you remarry and have another child, a Texas family law judge may not see that as a valid reason for you to reduce the support you pay for your other children. Furthermore, the income of a new spouse wouldn’t be factored into child support calculations for children from a previous marriage.

The court evaluates each petition to modify child support on a case-by-case basis. Working with an experienced child support modification lawyer can help you present the strongest possible case to the judge to obtain the change you need.

What Happens at a Child Support Modification Hearing in Texas?

A child support modification hearing will likely remind you a lot of your initial hearing for child support or any hearing you had for temporary orders. You and your child’s other parent will be present, along with your legal counsel. There will be a judge and a court reporter but no jury.

The petitioning party will present their case and evidence supporting the substantial material change in circumstances. Commonly used evidence in child support modification petitions includes:

  • Educational or medical records that demonstrate how your child’s needs or level of care changed
  • Financial records, like tax returns or pay stubs, an employment contract, dismissal letter, or other evidence of a change in income or employment
  • Modification of a custody arrangement that shows the change in the possession and access of the parents
  • Documentation showing a change in childcare costs, like daycare contracts or invoices
  • Witness statements attesting to the change in your financial position

These may not be the only pieces of evidence your attorney uses. They can build your case based on your situation and may ask you to provide certain documents.

How Do I Get My Child Support Reevaluated in Texas?

You can start the process with a consultation with an Austin family law attorney. They can look at your current support orders and the changes in your financial situation or that of your child’s other parent. If your lawyer agrees that your situation warrants a change in child support, then they can draft and file the petition for you.

You and the child’s other parent may have negotiated an agreement to change child support on your own or through mediation, but for it to be legally effective, a judge must approve and sign it.

The process will go something like this:

  • Consult with the lawyer. Bring any relevant documentation and supply any supporting documents your lawyer may ask for.
  • Your lawyer completes the child support modification forms, attaching your supporting documentation to the submission.
  • Your lawyer files the petition to modify child support. Usually, this will be in the same court as your original case.
  • Serve your child’s other parent with a copy of the petition, per Texas’s legal service requirements.
  • Go to the court hearing, where your lawyer will present your case.

The judge will review your petition and the evidence you present and then consider whether the petition is in the child’s best interest. If the judge approves your request, they will issue a new child support order.

Until and unless the new support order is in place, you and your child’s other parent must

Do I Need a Lawyer to Modify My Child Support Agreement?

child support modification lawyer shaking the hand of a client and his wife by his sideTo reach the best outcome, yes. Petitioning the court to change a child support order can be tricky. You’ll need to have solid evidence to support the claim that you need an increase or decrease in child support.

Your family law attorney can assess your situation and determine the correct amount to adjust the child support order. They can also represent you in negotiations with your child’s other parent. You may be able to come to an agreement outside of court and simply present your new arrangement to the judge for their approval.

Your attorney can also ensure that the documentation you submit with your petition is strong enough to justify your request. Texas family law courts have strict rules about presenting evidence in court. An attorney can ensure adherence to the proper evidentiary rules.

Considering that not all requests to modify child support are accepted, it is advisable to seek legal advice to bolster your case.

How to Win a Child Support Modification Case

Even with the strongest case, there is no guarantee of approval for your request. Be wary of any lawyer that promises you absolute results. That being said, there is a big difference between a strong case with clear evidence and one that is weak and unsupported. A judge is most likely to approve your petition if you provide substantial supporting evidence.

You can also have a better chance of winning by working with a lawyer with a proven track record of securing successful child support modifications, like one from Smith Family Law.

Contact a Child Support Modification Lawyer In Austin Today

Do you require assistance in increasing or decreasing your child support order? You can’t just tell a judge you need more money or that you’re not able to pay your ordered support. Working with our team of child support modification lawyers in Austin from Smith Family Law can make the process go more smoothly and help you present a viable case to the family law judge. Contact us today at (512) 277-3166 or fill out our online form for a free consultation.

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Written by: Smith Family Law