Managing child support after a job loss

Non-custodial parents in Texas pay child support that amounts to a percentage of their income. 

Therefore, due to the increased difficulty that suddenly laid-off parents will likely have with making payments, they could have grounds for a modification to the child support order. 

Modification basis 

Before a court modifies a child support order, FindLaw states that the parent requesting the adjustment must prove a “material and substantial change” in the circumstances affecting the ability to pay. These changes often include situations where the original order is no longer manageable under current conditions, such as a job loss. It is generally in parents’ best interests to make modification requests as soon as possible, as any child support owed before the filing is not eligible for consideration. 

Modification method 

If the custodial parent disputes a modification, the other party may present the facts supporting a new order to a judge, possibly a jury. The court will then base the determination on the individual case’s merit. 

When parents agree on an acceptable change to child support payments, they can settle without a trial or hearing by signing an Agreed Order Modifying Prior Order in Suit Affecting the Parent-Child Relationship. However, if they modify their arrangement unofficially without the assistance of attorneys and approval from a judge, the original order will stand in the event of a dispute. The non-custodial parent could then be liable for the full amount of child support due. 

Nonpayment consequences 

According to FindLaw, parents that do not file a motion to modify child support before they start missing payments can face serious penalties. Consequences may include: 

  • Suspension of driver’s or other state-issued licenses 
  • Liens filed against assets and property 
  • Seizure of lottery winnings and tax refunds 

The custodial parent could also attempt to enforce the child support agreement by bringing forth a lawsuit. In worst cases, a court could find the delinquent parent in contempt and dispense a jail sentence. 

FindLaw Network
Heidi L. Heinrich
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