Maybe you are a parent who has temporarily lost your job and are concerned about how you will fulfill your child support payment. Maybe you are a divorcee who has been temporarily furloughed and are stressed about how you will make your alimony payment to your ex-spouse. In any case, it might be time to consider modifying your support payment.
When you find yourself in the position of needing to change a support payment, you must follow certain procedures per family court. The Killeen family law attorneys at the Mary Beth Harrell Law Firm can help when you need to modify a support order.
Why must I go through the courts to modify my support order?
You cannot just modify your support payment when you want to, even if you have a legitimate reason for doing so. Your support order is considered a legal obligation. That means that you are legally bound to pay the agreed amount of your support order. If you decide to change the terms on your own, you can be held in contempt of court for not following the terms of the original agreement. Instead of taking those chances, you must file for a court order modification.
What happens if I cannot pay my court support order?
If you have fallen on a financial hardship that prevents you from making your support payment, continue to make your payments as best as you can. While you are still contributing somewhat to your payments, you should work with your attorney to file a support order modification with the courts. A support order modification is the proper way to inform the courts of any potential changes in a parent or spouse’s circumstances.
What are the penalties for failing to pay my support order payments?
If you fail to pay your portion of support order payments, like alimony, you can face severe legal penalties. Some of these include:
- Garnishment of wages
- Having a lien placed on your bank accounts
- Having your tax refund intercepted
- Having any additional benefits (disability, workers’ compensation, unemployment, etc.) intercepted
- The suspension of your driver’s license
- The suspension of your business license
Can I modify my child support order if I have lost my job?
Yes. Texas law allows you to file for child support order modification if there has been a major change in your circumstances. A job loss qualifies as a major change of a parent’s circumstances. When filing your child support order modification, you may also be required to reach an agreement with the other parent concerning the new amount. All changes to the child support order must be documented and reviewed by a judge.
What happens if I cannot reach an agreement with my co-parent?
If you and the other parent are unable to come to a mutual agreement, you can file a motion with the court to modify your child support order. The judge will make the decision on the support order moving forward. However, the reason for the child support order modification will be carefully scrutinized by the judge.
Can I request modification for my alimony payment if I lost my job?
You can also file a modification for your alimony payment if you have lost your job. However, it is not guaranteed that the modification will be awarded. Just like with a child support order modification, you would have to justify why the modification would be fair. A temporary job loss may qualify as a justifiable reason for spousal support order modification. However, if the courts discover that you voluntarily walked away from your occupation, your request for modification may be denied.
If I reach an agreement with my former spouse, do I still need to file for a modification?
Yes. If you can reach an agreement with your ex-spouse or co-parent about a support order modification, it would still be in your best interest to submit that agreement in writing to the courts. This helps ensure that the courts are aware of the modification and do not penalize you for failing to make the assigned court-ordered payment. It will also help your case if the other parent or ex-spouse changes their mind about agreeing to the modification.
What factors do the courts consider for a support order modification approval?
Some of the factors that judges consider for a support order modification approval include:
Whether the circumstances are temporary or permanent
Judges can grant either temporary or permanent modifications to support orders. A loss of a job would be considered a temporary situation, and would therefore require a temporary modification. If you suffered a permanent disability, that would be considered a permanent situation and result in a permanent modification.
The best interests of the child
The child’s best interest will always be the primary deciding factor in a child support order modification. If the child’s needs can still be met with the child support order modification, the judge may consider approval.
Your former spouse has remarried
If your ex-spouse remarries, your spousal support may be eliminated altogether.
How a Killeen family law attorney can help with your support order modification
Our family law attorneys can provide guidance on the support order modification process. You and your ex-spouse or co-parent may not want to leave the decision for modification in the hands of the judges. You may want to come to an agreement, but are having challenges doing so. Our family law attorneys can help you and your ex-spouse come to the best decision for your child or each other.
When you need to modify your child support order, spousal maintenance, or child custody order, the knowledgeable Killeen family law attorneys at Mary Beth Harrell Law Firm can help. We are skilled at ensuring that you and your ex-spouse come to a mutual and agreeable modification. Call us today at 254-680-4655, or submit our contact form to schedule a free consultation. We serve clients in Copperas Cove, Killeen, Belmont, Temple, and Central Texas.
I’ve dedicated my legal career to defending my clients. I demand all the evidence. I investigate all the facts, the so-called witnesses and even the police officers. I make it my business to know the law. Cases can be won or lost before you even set foot inside the courtroom.
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