Parents in the state of Texas are able to petition family courts to change the terms of their child support and child custody orders as long as their children continue to live in the state.
Modifying Texas Child Support Orders
For parents whose net monthly income is below $6,000, the state of Texas uses a fixed schedule to determine a parent’s child support obligation. This schedule requires a parent to pay a percentage of their monthly income in child support to the custodial parent.
For example, a parent of a single child will be required to pay 20 percent of his or her net monthly income in child support. If there are two children, this rate rises to 25 percent. Three, four and five children raise the percentage of income to 30, 35 and 40 percent, respectively.
If a parent’s income exceeds $6,000, the court will look at a number of different factors to establish the amount he or she must pay each month.
It is possible for parents to modify child support orders. One way is to show that they or their children have experienced a material or substantial change. A material or substantial change can include a remarriage, a change in a medical condition, a child becoming significantly older in age, a change in a child or parent’s residence, a change in a parent’s employment status or criminal history, and a change in the relationship between former spouses.
It is also possible to petition a court to have child support orders modified if the current order has been in effect for three or more years and changing the order would alter the monthly payment by $100 or 20 percent. However, under no circumstances can child support orders be retroactively modified; that means all changes only affect future payments, not past ones.
Modifying Texas Child Custody Orders
It is also possible for parents to change child custody orders. Instead of a fixed schedule, family courts hear the testimony of each parent and use several different factors to determine whether or not a change in child custody is appropriate.
First and foremost, a child custody order must be in the best interests of the child, not his or her parents. Sometimes, a child’s living circumstances have changed to make a custody modification in his or her best interests. In these cases, parents may present evidence that the child’s circumstances have changed since the original order was signed.
Changes in a child custody order may also take into account the written preferences of children over age 12.
Lastly, it may be possible for a child custody order to change if the custodial parent has voluntarily given a child to a third party for care for at least six months. For example, a father may petition the court for a custody change if the mother of his child has given the child to her grandparents if the child has been in their custody for six months or more.
There are special rules for changing a custody order within a year of the order being issued. To do so, a parent must be able to show that a child’s environment is dangerous physically or emotionally, the other parent has voluntarily relinquished care of a child to another person for at least six months, or that the other parent has consented to changing the order in the child’s best interests.
Texas parents are able to modify their child support and custody orders under certain circumstances. If you are interested in changing your support or custody orders, it is advisable to contact an experienced family law attorney.