Top of SectionThe Problem With Child Support Laws in TexasRetroactive Child SupportAdditional FactorsChild Support TragediesClosing a Child Support Account10 Things To UnderstandHow Much Should I Pay?What if I Can't Afford It?What if I Lose My JobChanging A Child Support OrderCan I Go To Jail For Not Paying?Paying Support vs. Visitation RightsSupport Deviation vs. Tax BenefitsThe Subversion of Child SupportO.A.G. Child Support ServicesChild Support Guidelines
If you lose your job, make less money than you used to, or become physically disabled and unable to earn an income, you should notify the court immediately. However, simply telling the court clerk or the Child Support Division of the Office of the Attorney General is not enough to reduce the amount of child support you owe. You must obtain an order from the judge or child support master. It is best to get a lawyer, if you can afford one, to handle your attempt to change the amount of child support you owe.
Many noncustodial fathers believe that if they get behind at a time when they are legitimately unable to make a child support payment, what they owe can later be reduced or discounted by the court when an explanation is given. However, if you wait to explain your changed circumstances, the court will be unable to reduce the back payments you owe. So it is very important that you notify the court immediately, provide proof of the reduction in income, and ask that your payments be reduced accordingly. If you do this, the court may temporarily or permanently reduce the amount of future payments. At a hearing, the child support master or judge may modify the amount of child support you pay in two situations:
1) If there has been a substantial change in circumstances that impacts your ability to pay child support, or
2) If it has been three years since the child support order has created or modified and the amount you pay differs by 20 percent or $100 from the amount you would pay based on your current income according to the child support guidelines. The court may also order you to seek employment or participate in an employment-training program, such as those offered by the Texas Workforce Commission.
From the Texas Q and A Handbook for Non-Custodial Parents, Office of John Cornyn, Texas Attorney General