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Major Changes to Texas Child Support in September 2018

Child Support Is Changing in Texas

The Texas Family Code includes several new changes that have gone into effect in 2018, including major changes to child support that will become active as of September 1, 2018. Learning about these changes can be important for single, divorcing, and divorced parents to understand future child support orders as well as determine the potential of modifying existing orders. These changes could make it much more difficult to seek modifications and discourage agreements that deviate from standard support amounts.

Child Support Before the 2018 Changes

In Texas, Chapter 154 of the Texas Family Code determines the amount of child support that the noncustodial parent must pay the primary custodial parent each month. This amount is calculated according to monthly net income and the number of children the parent has. The largest potential child support obligation reaches up to 40 percent for cases that involve five or more kids. In addition, the support-paying parent must pay for the child’s medical coverage; this cost is deducted from the parent’s monthly income in order to calculate his or her cash child support obligation.
Custody of Minor Children

New Approaches to Child Support

As of September 1, the TFC will now require dental insurance to be handled by the noncustodial parent, much like health insurance. As is the case with health insurance, the premiums will be deducted from the parent’s monthly income before calculating the child support obligation.

However, the most significant change concerns child support modifications, particularly when both parents made their original agreement for an amount of child support that’s outside the guidelines provided in the TFC. Prior to the changes, there were three circumstances in which a child support order could be modified after an agreement outside of the provisions of the Texas Family Code:

  • When the child’s circumstances or the paying parent’s circumstances have materially and substantially changed since the original order
  • When the parties reached an agreement through mediation or collaborative law practice
  • When the monthly amount of child support would differ by either 20 percent or $100 from the amount that would have been applied under the TFC guidelines, within three years of the original order or most recent modification

However, under the changed guidelines, an original order outside the official state guidelines can only be modified on the grounds of a material and substantial change to circumstances for either the child or the paying parent.

Effects of Child Support Changes

Prior to these changes, parents who agreed to a child support payment outside the TFC’s formula may have expected to wait a short time before seeking a modification based on increased income if the support-paying parent had found greater career success. It’s possible and indeed expected for many people’s income to rise over the duration of their careers. In the past, all that was necessary to seek a modification was to show this income increase in the previous three years. Under the changed guidelines, the burden is far more substantial.

In addition, these changes may discourage parents from reaching agreements that deviate from the TFC guidelines as later modifications may be particularly difficult to obtain. Parents may be less likely to agree to any change that could inhibit their ability to modify the order in the future. This could also lead to fewer amicable divorces and a greater amount of conflict since the option of mediating a child support agreement outside the guidelines is no longer encouraged.

Contact Us

As the child support landscape changes in Texas, it’s important for single and divorcing parents to seek skilled family law assistance in their cases. The office of Stewart Law PLLC brings more than eight years of experience in family law to its clients. Call our office in Baytown at (281) 420-8020 or use our online contact form to email our family law attorney. Our initial consultation is a reduced fee of $50, and we accept credit card payments and payment plans.

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