Sometimes a change in circumstances causes a parent to want to change the amount of child support they are paying or receiving. There are limitations on when a Texas child support order may be modified, however. When the parties had previously agreed to a child support order that is different from what would have been awarded under the child support guidelines, the court may only modify it if there have been material and substantial changes to the circumstances of the child or a person affected by the order. The trial court must look at the circumstances at the time of the order and compare them to the current circumstances. There must be relevant financial information for both periods in the record, as seen in a recent Texas appeal.
The parents had previously entered into a mediated settlement agreement (MSA). The trial court signed an agreed order naming them joint managing conservators and setting forth visitation schedules and child support obligations. The father was required to pay $490 per month until the child turned 18. The father’s occupation and income were not identified in the MSA or the agreed order. The MSA stated the mother was self-employed but did not provide details.
The mother petitioned for a modification of the child support about five years later. The father did not file an answer or appear at the trial. At the trial, the mother submitted documents from the child’s doctors detailing his diagnoses. She attested that the child saw a psychiatrist every two weeks. She testified the child’s schedule on school days needed to be almost exactly the same each day. She stated he needed “a very high level of care.” She said she thought his disability would keep her from full-time employment.