Child support modifications will soon be tougher in Texas

On September 1, 2018, child support changes affecting dental insurance and modifications come into effect.

On September 1, 2018, a number of significant changes to Texas' child support laws will come into effect. As Texas Lawyer points out, on that day dental support will become a mandatory health expense for child support payors and certain child support orders will face much stricter modification requirements. For those who pay or receive child support, it is important to be aware of the changes as they could have a significant impact on one's own financial obligations or the care of one's child.

A look at the changes

There are two significant changes affecting child support that come into force this September. The first applies to dental support for children covered by a child support order. Under current law, a child's health insurance must be covered by a child support order. On September 1, 2018, both health and dental insurance must be covered by a child support order.

Modifications for some child support orders

The other big change affects modifications for child support orders that deviate from Texas Family Code (TFC) guidelines. Such orders are often the result of parents coming to their own agreements concerning child support rather than having a child support order imposed on them by a court.

Beginning on September 1, 2018, child support orders that deviate from TFC guidelines will only be able to be modified if the material conditions of the child or person who is subject of the order have substantially changed.

That change is significant since under current law such an order can be modified for two other reasons as well: if the parents come to their own mediated or collaborative law agreement that changes their child support obligations or if, within three years, the monthly child support payments deviate by more than 20 percent or $100 from TFC guidelines.

On September 1, those latter two reasons can no longer be used to petition a court to change a child support order that deviates from the TFC (although they can still be used as a basis for modifying an order that does comply with the TFC).

The changes are likely to make negotiations over child support more contentious, since parents will have to keep in mind that future modifications of such support will likely be difficult to come by. For those who pay child support, the changes could mean an increase in their obligations.

Help during a divorce

Whether a parent is trying to come to an agreement concerning child support or child custody or is seeking a modification to an existing order, getting legal help is imperative. A family law attorney can show clients the most effective way of pursuing an order that will ensure their children have the support and resources they need to thrive following a divorce.