August 2017 Archives

I Lost My Job: What Do I Do if I Am Unable to Pay Child Support?

There is one thing certain in life- change. The good, the bad, and the ugly. The Puhl Law Group, P.C., has had many a stressed client come through the door and share, "I lost my job. What do I do if am unable to pay child support?" There are many circumstances, that could change an earner's income and render them unable to pay their full child-support, both temporarily or permanently. On the flip side, many upset clients have come in exasperated and said, "My ex said he can't pay child support, can he do that?!!!!" We work with, and successfully help clients on both sides of the coin.Lots of circumstances could change an earner's income. One could lose their job, get a pay cut or even become disabled, permanently or for a short while. If any of these situations happen to you, and you are no longer able to pay the same child support, the most important thing to do is hire a family lawyer who will notify the court immediately. Many non-custodial parents believe that if they get behind on child support payments and they have a legitimate reason why, they can simply reduce their child support payments later when they get around to giving the court an explanation. Not true. The non-custodial parent is the parent who does not have primary custody of the child. For the record, in Texas most noncustodial parents are fathers. Non-custodial parents need to know that their monthly child support obligation will only change if they obtain a new support order. So what do you do if you are unable to pay child support? You must file a petition to modify child support. The court will not unilaterally reduce or reimburse past-due child support payments. If you delay your request to the court to modify your support order you will still be required to make up any past due support. It is essential that you hire an experienced family law lawyer when material changes affect your ability to pay your child's support as ordered. Only a judge has the power to lower an existing child support order. The judge will need to see why you are unable to pay child support. You must show evidence of substantial change in circumstance that affects your ability to pay child support. This evidence may  include, recent pay stubs or self-employed income evidence, proof that family obligations have changed (the birth of another child) or medical records proving you have recently become disabled. Child support modification is a broad and complicated subject best handled by an experienced family law specialist. Our board-certified family law lawyers at Puhl Law, P.C can help you.

How Can I Make a Child Support Modification?

Things change. A child support agreement for a four and six-year-old might not be right for the same kids as they turn fourteen and sixteen - hello cell phone bill and braces! Kidding aside, the needs of a child might change as they get older. Parents might lose, or better yet get a better paying job. These life changes might mean you need a child support modification. Child support is ordinarily paid until the later to occur of the child reaching 18-years of age or the child's graduation from high school.   A lot can change in 18 years so child support modifications are a common part of the ongoing effects of a divorce. What are Some Reasons to Modify a Child Support Order? Per Section 156.401 of the Texas Family Code the court may modify an order providing for the support of a child, including an order for health care coverage, if the circumstances of the child or a person affected by the order have materially and substantially changed since the earlier of either the date of the order's rendition or the date of the signing of a mediated or collaborative law settlement agreement.  The court may also modify the support if it has been three years or longer since the order was established or modified and the monthly amount of the child support ordered differs by either 20% or $100 from the amount that would be awarded per child support guidelines. So, what exactly is a material and substantial change in circumstance? Usually, this results when the noncustodial parent's income has increased (as a result of a better job or a raise) or decreased (lost job). It can also occur when the noncustodial parent is now legally responsible for more kids in addition to the ones the child support order was created for. This often happens in a second marriage or if the children's medical insurance rates or living arrangements have changed. How Do Child Support Modifications Work? All child support modifications must go through the court system. There are probably many other things you'd rather do (organizing the garage, hosting a bake sale) than returning to court. It is frequently time-consuming and can dredge up uncomfortable feelings from the past divorce. But it is essential to go through the legal process if you ever want to enforce your right to collect or pay the money on the terms you have agreed to. No matter how well you co-parent right now, a "you have my word" agreement just doesn't hold up for child support modifications. You must modify the agreement properly in the legal system. It is important to consult with a competent family law attorney to help you with this process. As you can see, there are a variety of reasons people seek a child support modification. It can be an important part of keeping your family healthy and happy. Our board-certified family law lawyer at Puhl Law PPC can help you get the proper child support modification you need to help your family thrive."

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