Modifying Child Support Orders in Texas: When and How to Seek Changes

Child support orders in Texas are legally binding orders that outline the financial responsibilities of parents towards their children following a divorce or separation. These orders are established to ensure that children receive the financial support they need to thrive, covering essential expenses such as food, shelter, clothing, education, and healthcare. Understanding the intricacies of child support orders in Austin is crucial for both parents to fulfill their obligations and ensure the well-being of their kids. 

However, circumstances in life are often dynamic, and what worked initially may no longer be suitable over time. This is where knowing when and how to approach modifying child support orders becomes paramount. Whether due to changes in income, alterations in custody arrangements, or the evolving needs of the child, knowing how to navigate the modification process is essential for maintaining fairness and adequacy in support arrangements.

Understanding Child Support Orders in Texas

Child support orders in Texas are typically established during divorce proceedings or in suit affecting the parent child relationship if the parties are not married. The determination of support is typically based on state guidelines, which take into account various factors such as the net income of the obligor, the number of kids involved, and any special needs or circumstances of the child. These guidelines provide a framework for calculating the amount of support that is deemed appropriate for the child’s well-being.

Factors Considered in Calculating Child Support Payments:

When calculating initial child support payments in Texas, several factors may be taken into consideration. These may include:

  • Income of obligor: The net income of the obligor is a primary factor in determining financial support obligations. This includes wages, salaries, bonuses, commissions, and other sources of income.
  • Childcare expenses: Costs related to childcare, including daycare, after-school care, and babysitting, may be factored into the calculation of child support.
  • Healthcare expenses: Health insurance premiums and expenses for medical care and treatment of the child are also considered.
  • Custody arrangements: The amount of time each parent spends with the children may impact the calculation of support.
  • Additional needs: Special circumstances such as educational expenses, extracurricular activities, or medical needs may also influence the calculation.

Legal Obligations of Both Parents Regarding Child Support

In Texas, both parents have legal obligations regarding financially supporting their children. The non-custodial parent, typically the parent who spends less time with the children, is generally responsible for making support payments to the custodial parent. These payments are intended to cover the basic needs and ensure their well-being. It’s important for both parents to fulfill their legal obligations promptly and in accordance with the child support order. Failure to do so can result in legal consequences, including enforcement actions that may result in jail time.

Child support payments in Texas are calculated based on a percentage of the non-custodial parent’s income, ranging from 20% for one child to 40% for five or more children. In high-net-worth divorces, the standard percentage-based calculation might not adequately meet the child’s needs. In such cases, courts can consider additional factors such as educational expenses, extracurricular activities, child care, summer camp, income disparity, and more in order to calculate above guideline child support. Your child custody attorney in Austin can assist with requesting above the guideline of maximum support when appropriate for your specific case. 

Additionally, both parents have a duty to notify the court of any significant changes in circumstances that may warrant modifying child support orders in Austin. Understanding these legal obligations is essential for both parents to navigate the child support process effectively and ensure the best interests of their kids are met. 

When to Modify Child Support Orders in Texas

Significant changes in the needs or circumstances and/or change of custody arrangements or financial circumstances of either parent can warrant modifying child support orders in Texas. This could include a loss of employment, a reduction in income, or an increase in expenses such as medical bills or housing costs. If the financial situation of either parent changes substantially, it may impact their ability to meet their financial obligations as initially determined by the court. 

Additionally, if the child develops a medical condition that requires expensive treatment, or if they require additional educational support, the existing support arrangement may no longer be sufficient to meet their needs. In such cases, it may be necessary to look at modifying child support orders in Austin to ensure that the needs are adequately addressed.

Changes in custody arrangements can also trigger modifying child support orders in Texas. If there is a change in the amount of time spent with each parent, or if there is a change in the primary custodial parent, it may impact the calculation of financial support. For example, if the non-custodial parent gains more parenting time, their support obligation may be adjusted accordingly to reflect the increased costs associated with caring for the dependent during that time.

If one of the parents relocates to a different city or state, it may impact the existing custody arrangement and the associated financial support payments. In such cases, a modification may be necessary to account for the changes in the parents’ living arrangements and the associated costs.

How to Begin Modifying Child Support Orders in Texas 

Here are the steps involved in taking action on modifying child support orders. Remember that a family law attorney can be an excellent resource throughout modifying your child support orders in Texas:

Filing a Petition For Modification

The first step in modifying child support orders in Texas is filing a petition for modification with the court that issued the original order. This petition outlines the reasons for seeking the modification and requests a change to the existing arrangement.

Providing Evidence to Support the Request

Along with the petition for modification, the requesting party must provide evidence to support their request for a modification. This may include financial documents such as pay stubs, tax returns, and bank statements, as well as any other relevant evidence to demonstrate the need for a modification. A Texas custody lawyer can assist with identifying and providing evidence. 


Generally the parties will attend mediation in order to see if an agreement may be reached outside of court regarding the requested modifications.  If an agreement is reached, the parties can avoid court altogether.

Court Procedures and Hearings

After the petition for modification is filed and evidence is provided, the court will schedule a hearing to review the case. During the hearing, both parties will have the opportunity to present their arguments and evidence to support their position. The judge will then make a decision on modifying child support orders in Texas based on the evidence presented and the best interests of the child.

The timeline for the modification process can vary depending on the complexity of the case and the court’s schedule. Generally, it may take several months from the filing of the petition for modification to the final resolution of the case. Challenges in the modification process may include disputes between the parties, difficulties in gathering evidence, and delays in scheduling hearings. It’s important for parties to be prepared for potential challenges and to work with experienced legal professionals to navigate the process effectively.

Enforcing Modified Child Support Orders in Austin

Once a support order has been modified, it is essential to ensure that both parties comply with the new terms. This involves ensuring that the paying parent makes the required payments in full and on time according to the modified order. 

Failure to comply with a modified child support order can have serious consequences for the non-compliant parent. The court has various enforcement mechanisms at its disposal to address non-payment or non-compliance. These may include:

  • Wage garnishment: The court may order the non-compliant parent’s employer to withhold owed support payments directly from their wages.
  • Seizure of assets: The court may seize assets such as bank accounts or property to satisfy overdue support payments.
  • Driver’s license suspension: The court may suspend the non-compliant parent’s driver’s license until they fulfill their financial support obligations.
  • Contempt of court: If a parent willfully fails to comply with a court order, they may be held in contempt of court, which can result in fines or even imprisonment.

Modifying Child Support Orders in Texas with the Help of Family Law Attorneys

Seeking legal guidance for modifying child support orders in Texas is crucial to navigate the complex legal landscape and ensure that the best interests of the dependents are upheld. Family law attorneys with expertise in child support matters can provide invaluable assistance throughout the modification process, from evaluating the need for modification to gathering evidence, filing petitions, and representing clients in court. With their knowledge of Texas laws, procedures, and potential challenges, legal professionals can help parents understand their rights and options, negotiate effectively with the other party, and advocate for fair and reasonable outcomes. Contact Deyerle Silva Smith today so you can ensure that modifications to child support orders are handled with care, precision, and attention to detail, ultimately facilitating the well-being and stability of the children involved.