Custody Modifications In Texas
Child custody decisions are binding court orders that parents may seek to make changes to at some point for various reasons. When parents are in agreement on the need to modify an existing custody order, then the process can be rather quick and painless.
In other cases where one parent may disagree with the need to modify an existing order, then custody modification can become far more complicated and it can take several months to arrive at a resolution to the case. All cases will be dependent on the best interests of the child, but there also needs to have been some kind of material and substantial change in order for a court to be willing to modify a custody order.
“At The Sparrow Law Firm, PLLC, we recognize that
each case is uniquely different.”
Houston Custody Modifications Attorney
Are you hoping to modify an existing child custody order but unsure about what you will need to do to succeed? Do not hesitate to contact The Sparrow Law Firm, PLLC, so we can examine all of the facts of your case and help you develop the strongest possible arguments to present in court.
Our firm has years of experience handling these types of cases and will be happy to discuss all of your options with you when you call 281-973-0431 or contact us online to schedule a free consultation. All child custody cases can get very emotional quite quickly, and you will want to have a strong legal voice on your side when you are preparing to enter a courtroom.
Texas Custody Modification Laws
Texas Family Code § 156.101(a) establishes that a court can modify an order that provides for the appointment of a conservator of a child, that provides the terms and conditions of conservatorship, or that provides for the possession of or access to a child if modification would be in the best interest of the child and:
● the circumstances of the child, a conservator, or other party affected by the order have materially and substantially changed since the earlier of the date of the rendition of the order or the date of the signing of a mediated or collaborative law settlement agreement on which the order is based;
● the child is at least 12 years of age and has expressed to the court in chambers the name of the person who is the child’s preference to have the exclusive right to designate the primary residence of the child; or
● the conservator who has the exclusive right to designate the primary residence of the child has voluntarily relinquished the primary care and possession of the child to another person for at least six months.
The final provision does not apply to a conservator who has the exclusive right to designate the primary residence of the child and who has temporarily relinquished the primary care and possession of the child to another person during their military deployment, military mobilization or temporary military duty.
Under Texas Family Code § 156.102, a suit seeking to modify the designation of the person having the exclusive right to designate the primary residence of a child filed not later than one year after the earlier of the date of the rendition of the order or the date of the signing of a mediated or collaborative law settlement agreement on which the order is based will require the person filing the suit to execute and attach an affidavit that must contain, along with supporting facts, at least one of the following allegations:
● that the child’s present environment may endanger the child’s physical health or significantly impair the child’s emotional development;
● that the person who has the exclusive right to designate the primary residence of the child is the person seeking or consenting to the modification and the modification is in the best interest of the child; or
● that the person who has the exclusive right to designate the primary residence of the child has voluntarily relinquished the primary care and possession of the child for at least six months and the modification is in the best interest of the child.
Once again, the final provision does not apply to a person who has the exclusive right to designate the primary residence of the child and who has temporarily relinquished the primary care and possession of the child to another person during the conservator’s military deployment, military mobilization or temporary military duty.
Texas Family Code § 153.009 provides that in a nonjury trial or at a hearing, on the application of a party, the amicus attorney, or the attorney ad litem for the child, the court will interview in chambers a child 12 years of age or older and may interview in chambers a child under 12 years of age to determine the child’s wishes as to conservatorship or as to the person who shall have the exclusive right to determine the child’s primary residence. A court can also interview a child in chambers on the court’s own motion for a purpose specified by this subsection.
It is important to remember that a court is not necessarily bound to honor the wishes of a child. There may be cases in which the court determines that a child favors one parent for reasons that are not actually in the best interests of the child.
Texas Family Code § 153.009(c) specifically states that interviewing a child does not diminish the discretion of the court in determining the best interests of the child. The court cannot interview the child in chambers regarding an issue on which a party is entitled to a jury verdict in a jury trial.
Common Reasons For Custody Modifications
The phrase material and substantial change is not defined in Texas law, so it is usually at the discretion of a court to determine if the reasons for a modification are valid. Some of the more common kinds of reasons that justify modifications to custody orders may include, but are not limited to:
● A parent being released from incarceration or becoming incarcerated
● A parent’s remarriage
● A change in the parent-child relationship
● A change in the child’s residence and care provided
● A change in the child’s needs
● A change in a parent’s financial circumstances
● A parent’s changes in residence
● A medical condition adversely affecting a parent’s ability to function and work on a regular basis
● A change in cost to exercise possession of and access to child
● A change in child’s disability benefits
● The birth of a new child
● A change in parent’s employment
● A change to intentional unemployment or underemployment
● A change in amount of possession
● Some variance from child support guidelines
Cases can often be impacted by the type of child custody agreement that the parents had. When one parent is awarded sole custody, then that parent alone has the sole right to make decisions about how the child is raised. When parents have joint custody, shared custody, or split custody, then the parents often have equal say in decisions affecting how the child is raised.
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Ikaha M. Sparrow
Texas Custody Modification Resources
Changing a Family Court Order – Forms | TexasLawHelp.org – Use this website to access toolkits containing information, instructions, and forms to change a court order for custody, visitation, child support, or medical support. You can find forms, information, and instructions if you are starting a case to change a custody or visitation order or if you are responding to a case to change a custody or visitation order. You can also find answers to frequently asked questions, instructions & forms for an agreed modification, instructions and forms for a default modification, and instructions & forms for filing an answer in a modification case.
Modifying a SAPCR – Child Custody and Support – Guides at Texas State Law Library – Learn more about modifying a Suit Affecting the Parent-Child Relationship (SAPCR), the name for the lawsuit filed in child custody cases. This website offers links to Texas law, answers questions about understanding the law, and contains numerous forms. There is also a section on responding to a SAPCR modification, again offering advice about understanding the law and forms relating to this matter.
Contact A Custody Lawyer In Houston, Texas, Today
If you are hoping to modify an existing child custody order in the Greater Houston area, you are not going to want to be handling your case by yourself as you will be required to prove a number of things in court that could be especially challenging for you. Let The Sparrow Law Firm, PLLC, be your voice in the courtroom so we can help you get the most favorable results possible to your action and help ensure that you are able to get the modifications you need.
You will want to call 281-973-0431 or contact us online as soon as possible to talk with us about your case and have our firm answer every single one of your questions. We understand how complicated life can be for couples who are trying to create workable custody orders, and our firm will be able to fight to make sure that your wishes are honored and the court can ultimately do what is best for your child’s long-term needs.