Modifications in Child Support Cases

When a court issues an order involving child support and/or health and dental insurance, it retains jurisdiction to modify its own order. 

This is a common feature in child support. A person’s income can change over the years and the person paying the child support (called the obligor) should anticipate that the parent receiving child support payments (the obligee) will revisit the court to seek an increase in child support.  It’s normal for a parent receiving child support to revisit the court at least every three years to seek an increase.  Note the following from Subsection 154.401(a)(2) of the Texas Family Code states that a child support can be examined for change if “it has been three years since the order was rendered or last modified and the monthly amount of the child support award under the order differs by either 20 percent or $100.00 from the amount that would be awarded in accordance with the child support guidelines.”

On the other hand, a person paying child support may experience a drop in income or have a child “age out”.  These two circumstances could give rise to the obligor seeking to reduce his or her child support.  Whenever a person seeks to increase or decrease a child support order then the court will look to see when the person being sued for the increase or decrease was served or filed an answer to the suit. That usually determines when the new child support award goes into effect. 

Usually the court that issued the original child support order is the court with exclusive continuing jurisdiction to modify its order. If all parties and the child or children involved have moved away from the jurisdiction of the court then the child support order “follows” the obligor and the parent seeking to modify that order will need to sue the obligor in his or her new state of residence. Governing law discourages the existence of more than one child support order. Let’s say there is a Texas child support order but that the obligor has moved to North Carolina and the oblige with child or children has moved to Georgia.  The parent seeking the modification will need to “domesticate” the Texas child support order in a suit brought in North Carolina to modify the child support. Thus, child support orders are transportable.

If an obligor remarries, the court hearing a suit for modification of child support may not consider the income of the new spouse of the obligor in order to set the new child support. And, the court may not subtract the needs of a new spouse, of the dependent of a new spouse, from the net resources of the obligor or obligee in a suit for modification.

If you  any questions about modification of your child support order then call us at (915) 593-6600.  As an El Paso, Texas  lawyer I have handled 100’s of cases involving the modification of child support.