child support agreements in Texas

I recently had a case that involved an out of court child support agreement.  It did not turn out well for the person paying child support so I thought I would share the rules with you.

In the State of Texas you cannot have an agreement to modify child support outside of court.  It doesn’t matter if the agreement is notarized, signed in blood or written in stone, you cannot do it.  The only way child support can be modified in Texas is through a court order.

What does this mean?  Let me give you an example:

Danny Divorce loses his job.  He was paying $500 per month in child support per the current court order.  Danny gets along pretty well with his ex, Doris, so he asks if she will enter into a child support agreement to reduce the payments to $100 per month until he gets back on his feet.  As expected, Danny is very concerned about his financial situation and does not have the money to pay an attorney to get a new order.  Doris agrees to reduce the support in writing and delivers a copy back to Danny.

One year passes and Doris is fed up with Danny.  Remember that they only get along “pretty well”.  Doris is upset because she finds out that Danny bought his new wife, Daisy, a ring for their anniversary.  How dare he do that when she gave him a year to “get on his feet”.  Doris files a lawsuit to enforce the back child support at $500 per month.  Danny pleads with the court that they had a written child support agreement to reduce his support.  Result?  Danny is in arrears (owes back child support) to the tune of $4,800 ($6,000 owed versus $1,200 paid).  Ouch!

You cannot have an agreement to modify child support outside of Court.  You have to have a new court order as only the court can modify child support.

What should Danny have done?  Danny should have done his research and obtained the forms online and handled it himself.

I offer do it yourself child support modification forms at a very reasonable price and you can do it yourself, spending a few hundred dollars as opposed to thousands.

Don’t be Danny.


8 Responses to child support agreements in Texas

  1. Sheryl March 8, 2011 at 12:07 pm #

    I did not ask for child support from my ex’s rental property, because he has loans to pay off in a year. Now that the year is up, I was told that child support is reassesed only after 3 years. Do I have to wait 2 more years?

  2. Chris Schmiedeke March 9, 2011 at 7:58 am #

    You have to prove a material and substantial change in circumstances to modify child support. The judge decides what is material and substantial. However, after three years, the material and substantial change is that it has been three years…so you do not have to prove that any more.

  3. Ian July 12, 2012 at 12:34 pm #

    Can Child Support Arrears be reduced in the state of Texas at all?

  4. debi September 12, 2012 at 11:49 am #

    My grandchild receives ssi for a disability. Is there any way to set up child support in Texas that will not affect the SSI payments? I read about a case where the father paid a school directly so the child support would not be available to the child for “rent, food, and clothing”. If the money is not “available” to the child then the support will not reduce the ssi.

  5. Bingo October 10, 2012 at 11:13 am #

    My wife hit me up for a Divorce a week ago. Out of the blue. I have since found out that she has had another man in our house having “relations” with out daughter asleep in the next room. I’m past the point of trying for a reconciliation. I’m wondering if, in Texas, if we use a mediator, can we come together on an amount of child support less than the 20% of net that I’ve seen in all my searches. That amount would leave me unable to provide adequate living conditions for our daughter.

  6. Chris Schmiedeke October 10, 2012 at 11:15 am #

    Yes, the court will approve child support less than guidelines as long as it is reasonable.

  7. Bingo October 10, 2012 at 12:30 pm #


    Thank you SOO much for your answer! This is my absolute last resort. I don’t want this but I can tell that she’s out.

  8. Betty September 13, 2013 at 4:27 pm #

    My brother has been separated for a year. The mom of his son didn’t want to open a case through the court and agreed on him paying a certain amount to her per week. She provides him receipts on every payment that she signs, and that declare the payment is for child support. At any point in time can she turn around and open a case on him, and all that money not count towards payment? Also, what is the statute of limitations on when she can open a case. I keep telling my brother to go through the courts, but he insists they’ll take more than he can afford to live on.

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