Later this year, modifying certain child support orders will become much more difficult in Texas.
For both those who pay or receive child support in Texas, September will likely be an important month. That is because on September 1, 2018 two amendments to the Texas Family Code (TFC) affecting child support come into effect. The first change affects the rules concerning when certain child support orders can be modified. The second change requires child support orders to cover dental support for children. Child support is often one of the most fraught areas of family law and it is important for parents to understand how the changes could affect them.
Modifying certain child support orders
Perhaps the biggest change affecting child support that will come into effect on September 1, 2018 concerns child support modifications. Specifically, the changes will apply to child support orders that deviate from TFC guidelines, which often happens if parents negotiate their own child support agreement outside of the court.
Currently, if either parent wants to modify a child support order that does not comply with the TFC they can do so for one of three reasons:
1) The material conditions of the child or person affected by the order have substantially changed.
2) The parents have come to a separate mediated or collaborative law agreement that modifies support obligations.
3) The amount of the monthly payments under the agreement deviates from TFC guidelines either by more than 20 percent or $100 within three years.
On September 1, however, parents who want to modify a child support order that doesn't comply with the TFC will no longer be able to use reasons 2) and 3) to do so. Instead, only a substantial change in the material conditions of the child can be used as a reason for modifying an order.
However, keep in mind that this change only applies to child support orders that don't comply with TFC guidelines. Orders that do comply with TFC guidelines can still be modified for any of the three reasons listed above.
Dental support for children
The other change affecting child support obligations that will come into effect on September 1 concerns dental support. On September 1, 2018, child support orders must cover the cost of dental insurance or dental-related expenses for the child up to a reasonable amount. While many child support orders already cover dental insurance, this is the first time that dental insurance will become a mandatory expense for child support payors.
Family law assistance
Issues related to children can be especially complex and emotionally fraught during a divorce. Parents often have concerns about how much they will be required to pay in child support or if they will receive the support they need in order to raise their children comfortably. By talking to a family law attorney today, parents can get the guidance they need to know what their obligations are under Texas law and how a final agreement can help protect their family.