Modifications to child support orders will soon be a lot tougher

Two big changes are coming to Texas child support law in September which will affect the size of payments.

September 1, 2018 will end up being an important day for child support law in Texas. On that date, two significant changes to the Texas Family Code (TFC) will go into effect, both of which will impact how much many parents in the state pay or receive through child support. Those changes make modifications to certain child support orders much more difficult while also requiring the noncustodial parent to cover dental insurance and related expenses of any child who is the subject of a child support order.

Dental expenses obligatory

Currently, the TFC requires courts to order the noncustodial parent to cover a portion of the health insurance costs of a child affected by a child support order. Beginning on September 1, 2018, however, the court will now require the noncustodial parent to also cover dental insurance costs for their children up to a reasonable amount. Those costs will be calculated in the exact same way that the health insurance obligations for the child are currently calculated.

Child support modifications

Perhaps the more important changes going into effect on September 1, 2018, however, concern modifications to child support orders. For child support orders that deviate from TFC guidelines, such as many child support agreements that parents come to outside of the court process, those orders will only be able to be modified if the circumstances of the child materially and substantially change.

Currently, parents can petition to modify such orders for two other reasons as well: if they have come to a mediated or collaborative law agreement or if the monthly payments deviate by more than 20 percent or $100 within three years of the order from the TFC guidelines. Removing the latter reason will affect quite a few families since a spike in the payor's income has often been reason enough to modify child support payments.

Beginning in September, a change in the payor's income will not be sufficient reason on its own for modifying a child support order. Instead, there will need to be a material and substantial change in the circumstances of the child. However, it is important to keep in mind that the changes do not apply to all child support orders, such as those that already comply with TFC guidelines.

Help with family law issues

For those who are going through a divorce or who have questions and concerns about their current family law agreements, a family law attorney can help. By talking to a family law attorney today, clients will have the advice they need to understand what their legal options are and how they can approach any upcoming family law issues in a way that better protects their best interests.