If you are the father of a young child who has been through a divorce, you were likely ordered to pay child support as part of the final judgment of divorce. Unlike other types of litigation, however, final orders in a divorce are often subject to being modified after the fact. It is common, for example, for a party to request an increase in child support. Fort Worth child support attorney Jon Boyd discusses what you should do if your ex-spouse wants to increase your child support.
Despite the fact that a child support order is considered a final order of the court, it is possible to modify an existing child support order in Texas. To prevent endless modifications, however, a party can only petition the court for a modification if one of the following is true:
At least three years have elapsed since the child support order was entered or modified by the court AND the current monthly amount of the child support order differs by either (a) 20% or (b) $100 from the amount that would be awarded, according to child support guidelines. OR
There has been a material and substantial change in circumstances since the most recent child support order was entered.
Unlike other states where the income of both parents is used to determine child support, Texas only uses the income of the party paying support when calculating the correct child support amount. As such, a “substantial change in circumstances” applies only to the child(ren) and/or to the party paying support. For example, if the parent receiving support loses his/her job, it can’t be used as the basis for requesting a modification of child support. Ultimately, the court decides if circumstances warrant a review of the current child support order; however, examples of situations that would likely qualify as a substantial change in circumstances include:
Increase or decrease in the payor’s income
Payor becomes legally responsible for financially supporting additional children
The child(ren) have additional medical, educational, or psychological needs
A change in medical insurance for the child(ren)
The living arrangements for the child(ren) have changed
Only an experienced divorce attorney can review all the relevant facts and circumstances and provide you with an accurate estimate of what you might pay if the modification is granted; however, to get an approximate idea, start by calculating your gross income. Include in “income” all the following:
One hundred percent of all wage and salary income and other compensation for personal services (including commissions, overtime pay, tips, and bonuses)
Interest, dividends, and royalty income
Net rental income (rent after deducting operating expenses and mortgage payments, but not including noncash items such as depreciation)
All other income actually being received
Once you know what your gross monthly income is, you can calculate the appropriate percentage using the following guidelines to determine your child support amount. For example, if your gross monthly income is $6,000 and you are paying support for two children, your support amount would be $1,500 ($6,000 x .25 = $1,500)
1 child = 20% of the noncustodial parent’s average monthly net resources
2 children = 25% of the noncustodial parent’s average monthly net resources
3 children = 30% of the noncustodial parent’s average monthly net resources
4 children = 35% of the noncustodial parent’s average monthly net resources
5 children = 40% of the noncustodial parent’s average monthly net resources
6 or more children = not less than 40% of the noncustodial parent’s average monthly net resources
If you have reason to believe that your ex-spouse wants to modify your child support amount, contact an experienced Fort Worth child support attorney right away at Boyd Family Law to schedule your appointment today.