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Modifying Child Support Orders

The Collin County Law Group April 2, 2020

If you are a non-custodial parent in Texas, you may face a situation where you are unable to pay child support. Non-payment of child support comes with harsh penalties including jail time. There may be steps you can take when you can’t pay child support to reduce or terminate your payments.

Non-payment of child support is a common problem. Information from the U.S. Census Bureau revealed that in 2015, 5,845,000 parents were entitled to receive child support, but only 3,290,000 received it.

Many parents who have not paid child support want to pay but are unable to do so because of life circumstances. Here are a few of the most common circumstances that you could face now or in the future that could affect your ability to pay:

  • Loss of a job

  • Illness or disability

  • Unexpected expenses

  • Paying expenses for more than one dependent

If you have a valid reason for being unable to pay child support, you should contact your local office of child support enforcement. You may need to file a motion for a reduction in payments in the court where any prior child custody orders have been filed.

All states use formulas to calculate the amount of child support you owe. Some states look at the incomes of both parents, while others primarily consider the income of the non-custodial parent. If your life circumstances have changed, the amount you are required to pay can be recalculated.

Many courts will not recognize a voluntary or temporary changed circumstance as a reason for modifying child support. For example, if you quit your job or will be starting work again soon after the loss of a job, this may not be a sufficient reason to change your payments.

It is important to act quickly when you are unable to pay child support. It is much easier to request a modification than it is to ask forgiveness for any past child support owed. You could end up facing a sizeable arrearage even if your payments are modified if you wait. Contact an attorney for more information and assistance with filing the appropriate paperwork to request a modification.