Changing A Child Custody Order In Texas

On behalf of Rebecca Anne Gonzalez

Divorced parents with significant life changes can seek modification of their child custody orders.

Once a divorce has been granted in Texas, the order determines the child support, child custody and visitation rights of each parent. Even though the provisions of the order must be followed "to the letter" in most circumstances, there may come a time when the provisions no longer fit the realities of the child or parent. Because of this, it is necessary for all divorced parents to be aware of when they can seek modification of child custody, visitation and child support orders under Texas law.

When May The Order Be Modified?

A modification to the child custody order may be sought by either parent at any time after the divorce. If both parents agree that a modification is necessary, all that needs to be done is to submit the modified order to the court. Once the court has reviewed and approved the order, the modifications become enforceable.

In cases where the parents disagree on the need for a child custody order modification (or cannot reach an agreement on the terms of a new order), it is necessary to submit the matter to litigation. Under Texas law, the party wishing to modify the order must prove:

  • A material change in circumstances has occurred; or we can file a motion to confer with child in judge's chambers.
  • The child involved is at least 12 years old and wishes to change his or her caregiver.
  • A modification of the order is necessary to serve the child's best interests.

Other than cases where we have filed a motion to confer with the judge in chambers because a 12-year-old child has requested a change in caregivers, the parties must show the court that there has been a "material change in circumstances." Court decisions in the past have interpreted this to mean several types of changes including:

  • Layoffs, relocations and other changes in employment status
  • Remarriage or other changes in marital status by either parent
  • Alcohol or drug abuse
  • Changes in medical needs
  • Evidence of abuse or neglect of the child
  • Evidence that the child is failing in school, having multiple unexcused absences or is tardy to class an excessive number of times

Before the court will approve the changes to a child custody order, it will examine the changes to assure that they are in the child's best interests. This requires a consideration of many factors including the child's relationship to the parent, the child's emotional and physical needs and the ability of the parent to fulfill these needs.

An Attorney Can Assist You

If you are a divorced parent and feel that the terms of the custody order are no longer appropriate to your circumstances, contact an experienced family law attorney. An attorney can listen to your concerns and work to obtain a new custody order that reflects the new realities of your family's situation. Contact me today at 210-368-2608 or toll free at 800-823-6321 or, if you prefer, by email. My law firm offers a free 15 to 20 minute consultation. Evening and weekend appointments are available, upon request.