THE ATTORNEY GENERAL OF TEXAS
Ken Paxton

Frequently Asked Questions
about Child Support Modifications

How can child support be changed?

Child support orders can be modified through a court hearing or through the CSRP (child support review process). The CSRP is typically faster than scheduling a court hearing and it works best when both parents can agree on the order.

Your child support order may be modified if:

  • It has been three or more years since the order was established or last modified and the monthly amount of the child support ordered differs by either 20 percent or $100 from the amount that would be awarded according to child support guidelines; or
  • A material and substantial change in circumstances has occurred since the child support order was last set.

IMPORTANT: The amount of child support you are ordered to pay can only be changed by obtaining a new court order. Informal agreements between custodial and noncustodial parents do not change the child support court ordered amount.

What is a material and substantial change in circumstances?

Generally, this means that at least one of these things has happened:

  • The noncustodial parent's income has either increased or decreased,
  • The noncustodial parent is legally responsible for additional children,
  • The child(ren)'s medical insurance coverage has changed, or
  • The child(ren)'s living arrangements have changed.
I am returning to active military duty and my income will change, what do I do?

For some parents, military activation will mean a reduction in total monthly income. Being called to active duty is considered a material and substantial change in circumstances, and allows you to request a review of your child support order.

I am returning from active military duty and my income will change, what do I do?

For some parents, military deactivation will mean a reduction in total monthly income or change in health insurance coverage for their child(ren). Returning from active duty is considered a material and substantial change in circumstances, and allows you to request a review of your child support order.

I lost my job. My new job pays less than my previous job. Will my child support order change to match my new income?

It is possible that your child support order could change to match your current income. If you are unemployed and have no source of income when our office reviews your child support order, we generally will calculate a modified child support amount that considers your past employment, your ability to work and earn an income, and the current federal minimum wage.

Noncustodial parents who lose their job or see their income decrease can complete a request for review and mail it to the office that is handling their case. Get office addresses.

IMPORTANT: Your child support ordered amount does not change until the court changes it. Keep making child support payments while your request for review is being processed.

Are you seeking employment? Check out our list of helpful web sites to find some employment resources available to you. In some instances, our office can provide a referral to the Texas Workforce Commission for assistance in finding employment.

How do I request the OAG's help to review the amount of my child support order?

Parents who have an OAG child support case can complete a request for review and mail it to the office that is handling their case. Get office addresses.

To apply for services, complete an online application. Parents must open a case with our office to request a review of their child support order.

What information will the OAG need when reviewing a case for modification?

Our office will need information about the noncustodial parent's income and health insurance coverage costs for the child(ren). Income information can include copies of pay-stubs, tax forms (e.g., Form W2) or a letter of intent to employ from a prospective employer that lists earnings.

Will child support be taken out of my unemployment benefits? If so, how will the amount be determined?

Child support will be taken from your unemployment benefits through wage withholding. The Texas Workforce Commission withholds according to the child and medical support payment obligations. Up to 50 percent of the unemployment earnings can be withheld to satisfy the current monthly obligations.

My kids were on my employer provided insurance, but that coverage ended when I was laid off. What should I do now?

If you were court ordered to carry medical insurance for your child(ren) but you are no longer able to carry medical insurance, then you can request a review of your child support order. There are several options for providing medical support for your child(ren), and our office can assist in modifying your medical support order to reflect your current circumstances.

For example: If insurance is available at a reasonable cost through the custodial parent, then a modification can be sought where you reimburse the custodial parent for your part of that coverage; or

If you find private insurance at a reasonable cost, your current medical support order can be modified to reflect that amount.

I'm hoping that I'll be able to obtain a new job that pays close to what I previously earned. Can my child support be temporarily lowered while I'm looking for employment?

Generally, it is uncommon for temporary orders to be issued on child support cases processed by our office. However, because of the impact of the current economic downturn, our office is working with parents to issue temporary orders in some situations, as appropriate.

If a temporary order is issued by the court, our office will bring the case back to court at six months or when the noncustodial parent obtains new employment, whichever date is earliest. At that time, the case will be reviewed and a final order will be issued.

IMPORTANT: If a noncustodial parent fails to pay child support on a temporary order, an enforcement action will be taken.

I'm only able to obtain part-time work right now; can my order be set based on my part-time wages?

If you are a noncustodial parent employed part-time, our office considers your past employment, your ability to work and earn income, and the current federal minimum wage to calculate child support. Ultimately, the court decides the actual amount of child support you will be ordered to pay.

In some instances the amount of child support ordered by the court is different (higher or lower) than the child support amount calculated by our office.

Can the payments I'm making on back child support be adjusted based on my new wages?

It is possible that the payments you are making on back child support be adjusted based on your new wages. Our office can review the child support arrears (debt) payment ordered by the court and determine whether the amount may be lowered through a modified (new) court order or by adjusting the wage withholding in place with your employer.

IMPORTANT: Lowering the payment amount going toward child support debt may extend the time for a noncustodial parent to pay off his/her child support debt.

I live in Texas and the custodial parent lives in another state (where child support was ordered) – how do I file for a modification in this situation?

This is what we call an "interstate case." These cases can be complicated, so it is best to contact your local child support office for assistance. Generally, if the custodial parent lives in the state where the child support order was originally established, then the modification request will have to be made through that state.

How long will it take for the child support amount to change if I qualify for a modification?

There is no "average" or "typical" timeframe for modifications. Once our office receives your request for a review, we may need to obtain additional information from the other parent or other sources to complete the review process. Our office will work with both parents to schedule a Child Support Review Process (CSRP) where an agreed order can be worked out in the child support office. If an agreed order is not possible, the modification request will then have to be scheduled for consideration in court.

IMPORTANT: The cooperation of both parents will significantly speed up the process.

Is there any way that my child support amount could go up if I request a modification?

Yes, it is possible that the amount of child support you are ordered to pay could go up. Modifications are based on the parent's current income. If you are making more money now than you were when the child support order was established or last modified, the court may increase the amount of child support you are ordered to pay.