Change is the only constant in life. You may get fired. You may get a raise. You may have more children, or get sick. Luckily, there are ways to accommodate those changes when it comes to child support. Here’s how to renegotiate the amount you or your co-parent pay for child support in Texas.

When can I ask to change the amount paid in child support?

In Texas, child support modification depends on a “material and substantial change in circumstances,” meaning a serious and lasting change in your finances or requirements. This can apply to any of the parties involved. For a child, that can mean special medical, educational or psychological requirements, a change in medical insurance, or a new living arrangement. For the parent who doesn’t have custody, a serious change in circumstances can be a job loss, a substantial change in pay, or an inheritance.

Here’s an example of what probably doesn’t count: a temporary salary increase or bonus from your office. Here’s something that might: a parent working in a tumultuous industry being forced to take a pay cut. The key thing to understand is that a temporary change doesn’t modify your existing commitments. Something that’s likely to be a serious and lasting change, however, might. It’s often up to the judge.

In Texas, you can petition to modify child support every three years, but a material change in circumstances is much more likely to get child support renegotiated.

So how do I modify it?

The first step is to talk to your ex. Not only is it better for them to hear about it from you, it’s often easier to renegotiate something when the lines of communication are open and they know what’s happening with your circumstances. However, it’s best to put all your communication in writing, for everyone’s sake: if you have a verbal conversation, send an email afterward detailing what was discussed, and what—if anything, you agreed upon.

However, you don’t have to come to any sort of agreement to go through Texas’ Child Support review process. Either party can submit a request for the court to modify child support. From there, the court will reach out to both parties within 30 days, and begin verifying information like income, health insurance, and addresses. A child support specialist will eventually conduct a review. If they agree that the child support order should be changed, a court date will be scheduled and the matter will be settled there. If not, you can contest the decision.

What if I’m not the one that requested a change?

If your ex is the one seeking an increase in child support, you’ll need documentation to show that the increase is inappropriate. It’s your ex’s responsibility to prove the need for an increase in child support—but you may need to prove to the court that any changes are temporary or insubstantial. Have your documentation—paystubs, taxes, bank statements, etc—in order. An experienced family lawyer can help you collect the necessary documents and argue your case.

At Sandoval Law Firm we understand the stress of dealing with divorce, child custody and domestic violence. Our firm consists of founding attorney Raul Sandoval Jr. and a dedicated support staff. Mr. Sandoval earned his law degree from Texas Tech University School of Law. Since that time, he has been practicing family law in the Austin area, as well as teaching seminars, classes and other forms of professional development.