When can I modify a child custody order in Texas?

If your life has significantly changed, you may be able to get a modification of your custody order.

In the modern world, there are few things for certain in life. However, one thing that you can count on is your life will change every now and then. If you are a divorced parent, some changes can make it where the custody order terms no longer fit the living situation of your children or yourself. However, in Texas, it is possible to petition the court for modification of the child custody order in several circumstances.

Modification process

Either parent can request a modification of the custody order at any time. In addition, the children can do the same once they have reached the age of 12. If both parents agree on the need of a modification, the process is fairly quick and easy. All that needs to be done is to submit a modified order to the court for review. After it has been reviewed and approved by a judge, the modified order becomes enforceable.

The process is significantly longer when the parents disagree about the need for a modification (or cannot agree on the terms of the order), as the matter needs to be litigated. Under Texas law, in such circumstances, the party wanting to modify the order must prove that:

• A material change of circumstances has occurred; or

• The child, who is over age 12, wants to change the primary caregiver; and

• The proposed modifications would serve the best interests of the child

Circumstances warranting modification

Save for instances where the child (who is over 12) requests a modification, the parent wishing to modify the order must show that there has been a material change in circumstances justifying the modifications. Over time, Texas courts have interpreted this statutory requirement to mean many significant changes in life situations such as:

• Job relocations

• Changes in employment status

• Significant wage cuts

• Remarriage

• Changes in medical needs

• Neglect or abuse of the child by either parent

• Alcohol or drug abuse

The court will not approve any requests on the parent or child to change the order, unless it is satisfied that the new changes would be in the best interests of the child. This is a rather complex question that involves an analysis of the emotional and physical needs of the child, the ability of each parent to meet those needs, the relationship the child has to each parent and several other factors.

An attorney can assist you

If you believe a change in the custody order is necessary to fit your changed situation, it is important to seek the advice of an experienced family law attorney, such as Cynthia Tracy. Attorney Cynthia Tracy can use her decades of experience to successfully obtain a modified order that would fit the new realities of your life.