To lower your child support in Texas, you must get the prior order modified. Child support orders are modifiable through a court hearing or through the CSRP (child support review process).
The CSRP is typically faster than a court hearing and is preferable where both parents agree to get the child support reduced.
Am I Eligible for Child Support Reduction in Texas?
Texas law provides that parents seeking a reduction in their child support order are eligible for modification only if at least one of the following is true:
- The prior child custody order established by the court has been in effect for at least three years; AND
- The monthly amount of the current child support order varies by either 20% or $100 from the amount prescribed by Texas’s child support guidelines
- There has been a material and substantial change in circumstances since the last child support order.
Note that informal agreements between the parents will not change your court-ordered child support obligation. You need a new court order.
What Is a Material and Substantial Change in Circumstances?
If your last child support order occurred less than three years ago or if your reduced income does not deviate from the statutory amount, you can still apply to lower your child support in Texas.
Before a court will modify the prior order, you must show a material and substantial change in circumstances. Changes generally involve:
- A change in employer,
- A demotion,
- Job layoff,
- Unemployment for any legitimate health reason including illness,
- Noncustodial parent becoming legally responsible for additional minor children,
- The minor child’s medical insurance coverage has lapsing or changing in any way, or
- Your child custody arrangement changing.
In addition, Texas courts have found material and substantial change in circumstances where the noncustodial parent is incarcerated is deployed in the military or has incurred a justifiable increase in living expenses.
Proving Loss of Income
It is imperative to create and submit a mathematically comprehensive evidentiary foundation for the claim of loss of income. Records that evidence loss of income include pay stubs, W2 forms, tax returns, and bank statements.
How Much Will the Court Lower My Child Support in Texas?
A Texas court will likely consider your past employment, your ability to work and earn income, and the current federal minimum wage to calculate your new child support obligation. Note that being voluntarily unemployed or underemployed is not how to get child support reduced in Texas.
In the event you are unemployed and receiving benefits, your child support obligation may be taken from said benefits through wage withholding.
The Texas Workforce Commission will determine the amount based on the child’s needs. Note that up to 50% of your unemployment benefits are withholdable to satisfy your current monthly obligations.
Can the Parents Agree to Lower the Child Support Obligation in Texas?
If the parties agree to lower the child support obligation, then they should be able to avoid expensive and time-consuming litigation.
In this situation, the parties can submit an agreed order to the court for its approval. Remember that child support is not subject to contract law. To lower child support in Texas, a judge still must find the reduction to be in the child’s best interest.
If the new agreed-upon amount of child support deviates downward from the statutory standards set forth in the Texas Family Code, then they generally must provide the court with some sort of justification.
Questions About How to Reduce Your Child Support in Texas?
If you’re a noncustodial parent seeking child support reduction in Texas, don’t go it alone. Lowering child support in Texas can be very contentious when the custodial parent rejects the noncustodial parent’s claims of reduced income.
Even when the parties can agree to minimize the child support amount, you may have to convince a judge that the reduction is justifiable and in the child’s best interest.
Remember, even if your unemployment is justified, you still must keep paying the prior child support order until the court orders the reduction.
If you are unable to pay the ordered amount, you should still pay as much as you can. Note that Texas charges 6% interest on unpaid child support, and you could be subject to an enforcement case that can carry many negative consequences.
Contact a Texas Child Support Lawyer
The attorneys of The Larson Law Office represent clients in Houston, Texas, and surrounding metropolitan areas. Contact us today to speak to an experienced Texas family law attorney.
We will evaluate your case and help you determine whether you are eligible for child support reduction in Texas.