On February 2, 2016, the First Court of Appeals in Houston held in Trammell v. Trammell that a father had presented sufficient evidence to modify child support and conservatorship. Father had sought modify child support, tuition expenses, and the right to make decisions related to the children’s education, and consent to medical, dental, and mental health treatment. The trial court granted some of the requested modifications.
Under the terms of the original final decree of divorce Father was paying $6,000 in child support, which was much higher than guideline support. Father introduced evidence that his income has decreased from $800,000 to $225,000. Father also introduced evidence that he had exhausted an entire line of credit, his current wife cashed in her retirement benefits, and he was about to declare bankruptcy. The court found this to be sufficient evidence to prove a material and substantial change in circumstances to modify child support.
Under the terms of the original decree, Father was paying for the children’s school tuition. But he did not have the right to make any educational decisions. The court found that when the original decree was entered, the children were in primary grades and the youngest child was not yet enrolled in school. At the time of the modification, all the children were attending school on a full- time basis. This meant the private school costs were more expensive. Father introduced evidence of his insolvency and the court found this to be a material and substantial change that allowed for a modification in mother’s exclusive right to make educational decision concerning the children and to consent to their medical, dental, surgical, psychological, and psychiatric treatment.