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How do I get support payments adjusted after a divorce is final? Especially when they are excessive.

Austin, TX |

So I have been had by my ex-wife. She led me to believe that we would keep the divorce simple. If I agreed to a certain amount of money. I agreed to $2,000 of child support (which would be adjusted when I got a job stateside) and $1,500 of spousal support until August 2015. Only reason that much is because I am a Private Security Contractor and offered to help and make sure she graduated school. While I was deployed, she finalized the divorce. I was told that the $2,000 could never be adjusted regardless of what I make ever, and she tacked on an extra $400 in a medical payment though she has coverage through her job. I have her on recording admitting that she did that just to "screw me". I know it might be impossible, but I need to do what I can to get this adjusted and reasonable. HELP!

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Attorney answers 4


You were told wrong. Child support CAN be modified up or down until the child reaches the age of 18 or graduates highschool, or even longer if the child is disabled.

Child support orders can be modified if either of the following conditions is true:

It has been three or more years since the order was established or last modified AND the monthly amount of the child support ordered differs by EITHER 20% or $100 from the amount that would be awarded according to child support guidelines [20% of net for one child]; or

A material and substantial change in circumstances has occurred since the child support order was last set. Generally, this means that at least one of the following things has happened:
- Your income has either increased or decreased.
- You are legally responsible for additional child(ren) since the last order.
- Your child(ren)’s medical insurance coverage has changed.
- Your child(ren)’s living arrangements have changed.

Without reviewing your specific order it is difficult to answer. Look at the divorce decree [I know it is painful to read]...look for the medical support section. Most orders say that the non-custodial parent [you] either insure the child, pay the actual cost of the child's coverage or pay a dollar amount as cash medical support. If cash medical support is ordered the custodial parent obtains the policy for the child. Look at you decree. If it says you can put the child on your insurance do it. If the decree says you pay the actual cost for the child's medical premium [make sure it is the child's portion only] make a written request to your ex asking for documentation of the actual cost of the child's insurance coverage.

YOU SHOULD CONSULT A LAWYER....and will be accumulating "arrears" on the medical support if you do not pay it. Until you can get a court order changing the medical arrears or child support you must pay it.

I hope this helps!

DISCLAIMER: This answer does not constitute legal advice and no attorney client relationsip has been, or will be, created until a valid engagement agreement is signed. No duty arises from this posting. Answers posted here are general and made with limited knowledge of the actual facts of your case. Always speak with an attorney licensed to practice law in your jurisdiction if you wish legal advice specific to your case.

Howard M Lewis

Howard M Lewis


A truly outstanding answer- great counsel


I agree with the Austin attorney that you need to go ahead and get an attorney to attempt to modify the order. Best of luck.

This answer is for informational purposes only and may not be relied upon as legal advice.


Talk to a local family law attorney asap. Sounds like you need to file a Motion to Modify Child Support.

This answer is intended to be taken as general information and not as specific legal advice. You should always consult a qualified attorney and make him/her familiar with all the relevant facts in order to get proper legal advice.


There are two provisions in the Texas Family Code having to do with modifying child support. If the child support was substantially in compliance with child support guidelines at the time the order was signed by the court, then either of you can seek to modify child support to bring it back into compliance with guidelines if you have a change in income. Under this scenario, if your income goes up, she can ask fr more; if your income goes down, you can ask to pay less. The change is almost automatic in the sense that once your income is proven, the application of guidelines is simple. The AG can do this for you or you can hire a private attorney.

However, if the amount of support was NOT substantiall in compliance with guidelines at the time the order was rendered, then there is a much different legal standard. FOr example, if applying the child support guidelines to your income would have resulted in $1,000/mo in child support, but you agreed to $2,000, then the amount of child support in the order is NOT substantially in comliance with guidelines. In that situation, the party seeking a change in child support would have to prove that there has been a material and substantial change in circumstances inpacting one of the parents or the children in orer to get it changed. Very often a mere change in income is not a material and substantial change in circumstances. If it were, there would be no reason for there to be two statutes.

Usually, the child support obligor (person paying child support) must pay for the cost of providing health insurance for the children. If her company would charge her $200 per month for insurance for herself and $600 for insurance for her and the children, then $400 in cash medical support as reimbursement for premiums for the children is correct. If you can insure the children for less, you can ask the court to let you provide the health insurance and then just pay the premiums without having to pay her the $400. You might also ask her for proof that it really costs $400/mo to insure the children.

If she remarries, moves in with someone, quits school, gets a job that would pay her enough to meet her minimum reasonable living expenses, etc., you can have the spousal support eliminated or reduced. You'll need an attorney to help you do this. Spousal support, in Texas, is a rickety system for both parties.

It seems to me that you did not have legal counsel during the divorce and that you did not read the divorce decree very carefully before you signed it. I get that you were trying to do this without a lot of conflict or expense, but, as you can see, it never works out that way. In the future, make sure you are represented by a competent family law attorney who will watch your back for you when she tries these tricks on you in the future.

Good luck!!

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