Adjusting Child-Support


Nothing Stays the Same

Whether you are paying or receiving child-support, surely you don’t expect the amount will stay the same indefinitely.

Since you know that child-support is based on a percentage of income, it stands to reason that income/support can fluctuate with the economy, promotions, demotions, etc.

When the income level varies, then so too can child-support.

How is Child Support Calculated?

This is an often confusing topic that I am frequently asked. Most often, support is calculated at 20% of the non-custodial parent’s income after taxes. (2 kids=25%, 3 kids-30%, etc.) This isn’t the complete law, but just a basic rule of thumb.

This amount is different if you have children with more than 1 person and the percentage can be varied by the Judge, but the amount must be in the best interest of the child.

When Can Child-Support be Modified?

To keep child-support obligations current, Texas law allows either party to request a modification after 3 years if the support amount would change by 20% or $100. The law also allows a modification if the circumstances of the child, or a person affected by the order, have materially and substantially changed.

It is easy to figure out if the support amount has changed (well, as easy as math), but the “material and substantial change” is a little more difficult to explain in detail today, so that is something I’ll leave you to discuss with your attorney.

What About a Less-Paying Job?

Due to the economy that we’re in right now, many parents have been laid off and had to take lesser paying jobs. If the support would change +/- the above amounts, then it can be modified and the parent isn’t stuck at their highest wages forever.

However, since some parents are less than honorable, Courts take a very close look when a parent has suddenly started making less money and asks to pay less child support. The issue to beware of is when that parent intentionally becomes underemployed to earn less money in an attempt to reduce their child support.

If the Court finds that the parent is intentionally underemployed, then the Court may assess a child-support amount in accordance with their earning potential.


If there has been a material and substantial change of circumstance, or you have had a change of income, you can petition the Court to Modify the Parent-Child Relationship and the Court will issue an Order that reflects the correct child-support that you should pay.

–Authored by Matthew L. Harris, Esq.,


Matthew Harris Law, PLLC – Family Law Division

1001 Main Street, Suite 200, Lubbock, Texas, 79401-3309

Tel: (806) 702-4852 | Fax: (800) 985-9479

[email protected]