Seeking a child support modification in Texas if unable to pay

When noncustodial parents cannot pay the child support payments that they have been ordered to make, they need to contact the court clerk and the Office of the Attorney General right away. The court does not reduce or reimburse payments if parents fall behind on providing the funds, and notifying the OAG or court clerk does not automatically result in lower monthly payments. To achieve this, the parent needs to file for a modification to the child support orders and obtain a new one.

Noncustodial parents could qualify for child support order modifications if substantial changes have occurred in their lives and are affecting their ability to make payments. There are two main criteria considered for a modification. The child support order must be at least three years old, and the amount of the payments must differ by $100 or 20 percent compared to what the parent would pay if the order is changed.

One reason why noncustodial parents may seek modifications to child support orders is the loss of employment. The court might require parents in this position to demonstrate that they are searching for other jobs or are part of employment training schemes. such as the program that the Texas Workforce Commission offers.

As soon as noncustodial parents lose their jobs and are unsure of when they could obtain employment again, it may be in their best interests, as well as those of their children, to seek a child support order modification. Doing so could help them avoid being fined or even imprisoned. If they are unsure about how to file for a modification or need help ensuring that all the required paperwork is prepared, the parent may wish to consult with an attorney who has experience in family law matters.

Source: Texas Attorney General, "Handbook for Noncustodial Parents", December 31, 2014

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