When parents and their child custody lawyers arrive at a parenting plan, the plan is put in a child custody order, signed by a family court judge.
When children are involved in a court case, be it a divorce or a child custody dispute, the court that entered the initial order retains continuing jurisdiction to modify those orders when circumstances change.
Many life changes can make a custody modification necessary.
Examples are a change in relationships, abusive or neglectful behaviors, or even a change in job status, just a few of the times when life changes make child custody modifications necessary.
Because not every inconvenience qualifies as a means for modifying the custody order and presented to the family court for consideration, both parents should meet with their respective custody attorneys to discuss the issues and come up with an optimal plan to deal with them.
What Are Reasons For Child Custody Order Modifications?
Although child custody lawyers and the courts do everything possible to ensure that child custody orders work well for all parties involved, there are times when a parent’s circumstances change or something else happens that interferes with these orders.
Custody orders are not set in stone and can be modified; however, there has to be a good enough reason to do it.
Because every circumstance is different, determining what qualifies for modification is not cut and dry, but fairly complex in many less-obvious situations.
Generally speaking, custody attorneys are well aware that a change resulting from a parental inconvenience that should be fixable between the parents will most likely not gain court approval to officially modify the court order.
A schedule change or change of marital status or living arrangement does not present the right for child custody modifications if there is an easy solution that does not adversely affect the child.
On the other hand, something more significant like a parent being hospitalized, forced to move away, or exhibiting behavior that puts the child at risk could be a very valid reason for changing the custody agreement.
When Can Child Custody Modifications Be Made?
The state of Texas typically permits child custody modifications after one year of working within the standard orders based on the last modification date unless there are extenuating circumstances.
In many cases, this means that parents must continue to find ways to work together until the state will accept a request to modify those orders and in many cases, parents and their custody lawyers can find suitable ways to resolve the issues within the realm of the current custody orders.
When something more significant happens such as a parent’s loss of their home, a new substance abuse problem, domestic abuse against the child, sickness or hospitalization that affects the care of the child, or other problems that need immediate intervention, the court will accept a request to modify the orders.
If the child is in immediate danger, parents and custody modifications attorneys can petition earlier than one year with evidence that modifying the order is in the child’s best interest.
How Are Modifications To Custody Orders Made?
The first step of any custody modification is for a parent to discuss it with their custody lawyer, then file a petition with the family court.
Changes can be made more easily when both parents are in agreement that a modification is necessary, as a new agreement can be negotiated and then presented to the court for approval.
When one parent is opposed to making any changes, the petitioning parent and his or her attorney must request a hearing in front of the court with both parents present to produce evidence that the change is necessary.
Talk To A Lawyer About Child Custody Modifications
Child custody agreements in Texas are decided according to the best interest of the child and how to most easily permit parents to meet those requirements.
When life changes create challenges for parents to do that, child custody modifications can sometimes be made.
Discuss any issues with your custody and parenting agreement with an attorney experienced in handling child custody modifications to determine the best path forward and whether or not petitioning for a modification to existing custody orders should be requested.
Schreier & Housewirth Family Law
1800 West Bowie Street, Suite 200-E
Fort Worth TX 76110
Gregory L. Housewirth is a Board-Certified Family Law Specialist practicing in Fort Worth Texas. With 30 years of family law experience, Mr. Housewirth has represented hundreds of clients in divorce, custody, CPS, modification, and grandparent cases. In addition, Mr. Housewirth is a qualified family law mediator and a member of Collaborative Law Texas, a practice group dedicated to promoting collaborative divorce in Texas.