Texas courts consider various factors when determining how to award child support in cases of divorce or paternity. Generally, a child support award is based upon the needs of the custodial parent in caring for the children, as well as the ability of the noncustodial parent to pay for support. These determinations are usually made based on the needs and earning abilities of the parties at the time when the order is entered. Because circumstances change, the Texas code allows for a parent to seek a reduction or increase in child support based on a change of circumstances. A Texas man recently petitioned a Harris County Family Court to reduce his child support obligation based on a change in his employment situation, but the results were likely not what he expected or desired.
The Facts of the Case
The Petitioner in the recently decided case previously agreed to a divorce settlement with the Respondent, which included a child support obligation of $1893.00 per month to support the parties’ child. A final decree of divorce consistent with the agreement was then entered by the court in 2018. Since the decree of divorce was entered, the Petitioner had a change in his employment, as a contract job he had been working with was no longer available. As a result of his change in income, he filed a petition to modify the divorce decree. To modify a child support order, Texas law requires that the circumstances of the children or a person affected by the order have materially and substantially changed, and the support payments previously ordered should be decreased.
In response to his petition to modify his support obligation, the Respondent filed a counter-petition, arguing that the Petitioner’s income had actually increased and that her income was reduced, and that an increase in child support was justified. In evaluating the parties’ claims, the court noted that while the Petitioner did see a decrease in his overall employment income since the decree of divorce was entered, he had been receiving substantial other income that would need to be factored into his support obligation.