Time and time again potential clients come into my office because of a child support issue and one of two scenarios is present.
Potential Client No. 1: This potential client is the party paying child support. He (or she) has lost a job or otherwise had a significant loss in income, and now this parent has accumulated a large arrearage. He (or she) comes to me seeking relief from both the too-high current child support amount and the large arrearage.
Potential Client No. 2: This scenario involves the other side of the coin. The parent who receives child support comes into my office. The other parent has been making significantly more money than when the child support was calculated and has thus been underpaying for months (or even years). The potential client comes into my office looking to both raise the current child support amount and have the other parent pay extra for all that extra money he or she has been making.
Both of these potential clients are making reactive decisions about child support, and they are both going to be very disappointed. The Texas Family Codes generally does not allow us to look back and adjust child support retroactively. Potential Client No. 1 will most likely be stuck paying that large arrearage. If he or she would have sought to amend child support immediately upon losing a job, the child support amount would have been reduced and no arrearage ever would have occurred. Although the child support will be lowered going forward, this person will have to tack on extra each month to pay down the large arrearage.
Potential Client No. 2 will have the child support amount raised to the appropriate level going forward, but this person will not be able to receive any extra child support for years past. If he or she would have sought to amend child support immediately upon learning the other parent had a new (higher paying) job, this person would have received significantly more child support over the years.
The bottom line is that it is critical to be proactive and not reactive when it comes to child support. If there is a significant change in income, the loss of a job, the birth of another child, or any other significant event, one parent or the other should be filing to amend child support immediately.