Parents may want to modify change the amount of child support ordered and or child custody (to change the primary residence of the child or to change from a prior decree or mediated settlement agreement. However, there are certain requirements needed in order to do this:
1) A parent must show a material, substantial, and continuing change of circumstances. The burden to prove this test is upon the person who desires to change the decree. Circumstances that would necessitate a modification include moving to another state, significant changes in income, and change of health insurance coverage, problems relating to the care of the children including psychological, medical, and educational. Other circumstances to modify include a parent losing their job, has another child, or has a pay increase.
2) Parents usually have to wait 1 year in order to modify child custody from an original order or mediated settlement agreement and must show a Material and Substantial change of circumstances. In order for a court to consider modifying the child’s primary residence less than one year from the time of the original order, the parent must show that the child’s current environment will endanger or significantly impact their emotional and physical health. If one is seeking to change a geographic restriction from the prior order, then a showing of extraordinary circumstances must be proven.
3) In order to modify child support, a parent, typically, may only modify child support after 3 years from the original order and the parent must show the monthly support differs by $100.00 or either $20% from the amount in the original order. However, if the parent can show that the circumstances for either the children or parent have materially and substantially changed, such as a job, salary increase, children’s needs, then a parent may request a modification of child support before the 3 years from the original order.
4) You must collect all proof and evidence to support your case. This includes taking pictures, writing down a timeline of events in your calendar, children’s school records, and health records. The requesting parent must strive to be the best parent once a modification has been filed, which includes: taking much interest and being active in the child(ren’s) school activities, school projects, after-school activities, sports, family and friend activities, supportive and thoughtful of college goals and other future goals, being on time with any child support payments, not missing any designated custody and visitation periods, getting the child(ren) to school and other activities on time, etc. All such efforts should be heavily documented through pictures, written records, and witnesses. This model behavior is critical in order to increase the possibility of achieving the modification. A Court will use this behavior to make a determination of the modification.
5) Don’t face the modification battle, alone. Please contact a qualified attorney to help you as these are very difficult battles to pursue.
About the Author: Mala Sharma has been practicing family law and personal injury with her family at the Law Offices of Sharma & Associates, founded in 1997 with over 42 years of combined experience. Mala is a Board of Advocates for the Houston Trial Lawyers Association, Vice-Chair of the American Bar Association GP Solo YLD, member of the Houston Bar Association, President Emeritus of the Houston Northwest Bar Association, and prior board member of the South Asian Bar Association.
This material is available for informational purposes only and not for the purpose of providing legal advice. If you require advice on any particular legal question, you may contact Sharma & Associates at 281-893-8644 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org to schedule a free consultation to discuss your case.