What is the legal standard to change child support or medical support?
To change child support or medical support you must prove that:
- The circumstances of the child, a conservator or other person affected by the order have materially and substantially changed. -or-
- It has been at least three years since the last child support order, and a new support order, based on child support guidelines, would differ from the last support order by at least 20% or $100.
The legal standards for modifying child support changed September 1, 2018. See below and read Texas Family Code chapter 156.401.
If, however, you and the other parent made an agreement about the amount of child support in the orders, then the legal standard might be different. If you and the other parent agreed to a current child support amount that is different than what the percentage guidelines in the Texas Family Code would have required, then you will not be able to modify the child support amount simply because it has been three years since the last orders were signed and the monthly child support obligation differs by 20% or $100 from the order.
In this situation, you can only modify the child support order if you can show that the “circumstances of the child, a conservator or other person affected by the order have materially and substantially changed.”
The Family Code does not define “material and substantial change,” and proving this depends on the facts of each case. Usually, in order to determine if the circumstances have materially and substantially changed, the court will look at the circumstances at the time the agreement on child support was made and ordered and compare them to the circumstances at the time of the modification seeking to change that child support agreement.
Also, if your order is an order in a Title IV-D (Attorney General) case and does not include orders for medical support or dental support for the child, then a court may modify the orders without anyone having to show that there has been a material change in circumstances since the last orders were entered.
This information is not a substitute for the legal advice and counsel of a lawyer. A lawyer is trained to protect your legal rights. Even if you decide to represent yourself, talk to a lawyer about modifying your child support before filing anything. Use the TexasLawHelp Legal Help Finder tool for assistance in locating a lawyer.