What if I Can’t Afford My Child Support Payments?
We all want what’s best for our children, and, in these trying times, it may be difficult to support them the way we want. Someone with the best intentions may still find themselves falling behind when trying to keep up with their child support payments. Especially now with the difficulties surround COVID-19, circumstances might be keeping them from staying on top of their payments. If child support payments are becoming too much to bear, what can be done?
When Can Child Support Be Modified?
The biggest case to be made for child support modification is what Texas calls a “material and substantial change in circumstances.” This circumstance could relate to a change in income from a job loss, demotion, or a good-faith career change. The addition of a new child to the non-custodial parent’s family is considered a substantial change, too. Also, courts consider a change in a child’s health coverage important enough to reevaluate child support.
Child support can also be challenged if the last ruling on child support payments is three or more years old.
Texas is one of the few states that uses the “percentage of income model” to calculate child support. Courts use a chart to determine child support payments. Once all deductions are calculated, a judge orders that a percentage of the parent’s net income be used for child support. This percentage increases based on the number of children being supported. Supporting one child demands 20% of the paying parent’s net income. Supporting two children raises that number to 25%, and so forth. If the paying parent can show that their current payment differs from this chart by either 20% or $100, a case can be made for modification.
Pay close attention when considering whether or not to file for modification. Some of these rules could go either way. For example, if the paying parent has had a significant increase in income, the 20%/$100 rule could be used against them to make them pay more.
What Are the Steps for Modifying Child Support?
Once someone determines that they can justifiably ask for a modification in their child support, what are the next steps?
First things first, they should pay whatever money they can into their current child support obligation. They need to pay something. In the state of Texas, unpaid child support carries a 6% interest rate. Unpaid support starts to accrue interest and causes a parent to end up paying even more money later on. Putting whatever money possible on the child support will help them as they start taking the next steps.
The next step is to go through Texas’s Child Support Review Process, or CSRP. In the state of Texas, parents CANNOT renegotiate child support among themselves. They can come to an agreement through the use of the CSRP, but they will need the CSRP’s approval before the agreement can legally take effect. If an agreement can’t be reached, then it will be time to go back to court.
In Texas, it is highly recommended that someone secure the services of a good lawyer when renegotiating child support orders. Even if both parents are completely cordial, they can’t make their own agreements. The fact that any changes must go through the legal system requires the use of a professional to oversee the process.
If you need a lawyer renegotiate your child support payments, we are here to help. Consultations are free and there’s no risk involved, so call today at (713) 903-8112 or contact us online.