When you get a divorce, many things that need to be ironed out. Child support is one of those things. While determining child support may part of your divorce agreement, you may need to change that amount down the road. However, before child support modification gets approval, you need to have justification. Let’s take a look to calculate child support and how the process of child support modification works.
How is Child Support Calculated?
Texas child support guidelines stipulate that Texas uses a “guidelines child support” to determine how much child support needs to be paid. This is how it is calculated:
1 child = 20% of the average monthly net resources of the noncustodial parent
2 children = 25% of the average monthly net resources of the noncustodial parent
3 children = 30% of the average monthly net resources of the noncustodial parent
4 children = 35% of the average monthly net resources of the noncustodial parent
5 children = 40% of the average monthly net resources of the noncustodial parent
6 or more children = not less than 40% of the average monthly net resources of the noncustodial parent
Monthly income does not just take a parent’s paycheck into account. They also consider other sources. The amount of child support that needs to be paid is based on average monthly net resources.
Net resources are determined by adding all the money the noncustodial parent receives minus the following deductions:
- Social Security Taxes
- Income Tax
- Cost of health insurance or medical support if paid by the noncustodial parent
- Union dues
- Non-discretionary retirement contributions if the noncustodial parent doesn’t pay social security taxes
It’s important to understand that this is the standard formula used to determine child support. A judge may decide on a different amount depending on a particular situation.
What Are Some Reasons Why Child Support Would Need to be Modified?
Circumstances can change from the time that you got your divorce until now. This can affect child support as well.
Child support can be changed if one parent loses a job or gets hurt or something else happens that would impact their net resources. These types of life events will also impact how much money they’ll be able to pay in child support. Child support can be changed if it has been at least three years since the last child support order and the new amount would differ by 20% or $100 from the original.
Another reason why the amount of child support may be modified would be if the parent paying the child support recently came into a large inheritance or substantial increase in income. If the custodial parent discovers this, they can petition the court to get more money in child support.
Simply deciding that you want to change the amount of child support for another reason won’t be approved. The amount was put into place for a reason. Any change would have to be due to a valid reason that impacts income.
How Do I Get Child Support Modified?
Child support amounts can change by a court order. You typically need to request a modification from the same court that granted the first child support order. Even if you agree on a new amount with the other parent, it needs to be approved by a judge. Verbal or written agreements between the two parents are not enough. A judge needs to be approved whatever new agreement the two parties decide on.
This is why it’s important to hire a lawyer to request a child support modification. Your lawyer can review your reasons for wanting the change and advise you as to whether it is valid. If it is, they can request a hearing before a judge so that you and the other parent can make their case for the changes.
If you don’t agree with the child support modification, you can try to appeal the decision. But, if the ruling was made because your request didn’t meet the guidelines, the decision most likely will not get overturned. Your attorney can advise you about whether the appeal will be worth your time.
It’s important to remember that the judges’ decisions are based on the well-being of the child. That is a priority when deciding how much child support is distributed.
What if I Can’t Get my Child Support Modified but I Can’t Afford the Payments?
If you can’t afford the full payment, you should try your best to make partial payments. This at least shows you are making the effort. If you ignore the payments and don’t pay anything, you can face serious consequences. These can include:
- Being sent to jail
- Driver’s licence or professional license suspension
- Property liens
- Interest penalties on unpaid child support
This is why it’s best to try to pay a portion of the payment and not to ignore the child support obligation.
Be sure that any child support amount paid goes through the Texas Child Support State Disbursement Unit. This allows for there to be a record of your payment so that there’s no confusion. This protects the person from paying because there is also receipt of payment.
Getting Child Support Help from Wilson & Law Associates
At Wilson & Associates Law, we know that requesting a child support modification isn’t always easy. That’s why we’re here to help you with all of your child support issues.
We have helped many couples deal with child support issues while keeping the best interest of the child in mind. We understand the procedures to follow to change child support amounts.