Big changes coming to Texas child support this September

This article looks at big changes affecting child support in Texas that come into effect in September.

For people who pay or receive child support, September 1, 2018 could be an important date. That's because, as Texas Lawyer points out, on that day two big changes affecting child support will go into effect. One change will mandate that child support payors cover their children's dental insurance and dental-related expenses while the other change will place restrictions on when a child support order can be modified. Below is a brief look at these two important changes.

Dental insurance obligations

Back in 2015, Texas lawmakers passed Senate Bill 550, which requires those who pay child support to also cover their child's dental insurance up to a reasonable cost. This obligation is in addition to current health insurance obligations that payors are already required to cover. While the bill was passed in 2015, the changes will only go into effect on September 1, 2018. The dental insurance obligations for payors will be calculated in the exact same way that health insurance payments are currently calculated.

Changes to child support modifications

Also on September 1, 2018, parents will have to contend with changes to the rules surrounding child support modifications. Specifically, the change will affect child support payments that parents have agreed to but which do not follow guidelines set out in the Texas Family Code (TFC).

Under current law, a court can modify a child support agreement that deviates from TFC guidelines for any of three reasons:

· There has been a material and substantial change in the circumstances of the child or person affected by the order since the original order.

· The parents have come to a different mediated or collaborative law settlement.

· Within three years of the original order being rendered or last modified, the monthly child support payments deviate either 20 percent or $100 from the amount that would have been awarded under TFC guidelines.

Beginning September 1, 2018, however, courts will only be able to modify such a child support order if the circumstances of the child or person affected by the order materially and substantially change. That means that even if child support payments differ by 20 percent or $100 from TFC guidelines after three years (which often happens since payors' income often increases over a three-year period), custodial parents will no longer be able to petition the court for an increase in child support payments (unless, again, the circumstances of the child materially and substantially change).

Family law assistance

Child support can be an especially contentious issue in a divorce and the above changes are likely to make it even more so. That's why any parent going through a divorce or who has child support concerns should contact an experienced Board-certified Family Law expert attorney as soon as possible, who can show clients what their rights and obligations are under Texas law and how to pursue an agreement that protects both their and their family's best interests.