If your current child custody order is not working for you or the other parent, you may be able to modify it. You can request a modification through joint consent, or one of the parents can file a petition with the court.
A judge will not automatically grant a modification request, even if both parents agree to the changes. There typically needs to be a substantial change in circumstances for a judge to change a custody order.
Child custody modification basics
According to the Texas Constitution and Statutes, parents generally cannot request a modification unless it has been at least one year since the current one came into effect. However, either parent can request a change within one year if the request meets certain legal requirements.
After filing a petition for a custody modification, the parents must continue to follow the terms of the current order until the judge approves a new one.
Justifications for modification
A judge will usually only consider a modification request within one year of the current order if one of three things occurs:
- The present living situation is putting the child’s mental or physical health in danger
- The parent with primary custody allowed another party to have possession and primary care of the child for a minimum of six months unless the parent is on active military deployment
- The parent with primary custody agrees to the modification
If a modification request occurs after one year of the current order, the parent needs to prove that there has been a significant change, although the law does not specifically define what these changes are. Some examples include if a parent’s work schedule has changed dramatically if a parent is relocating or there is proof of substance or physical abuse. Once a child turns 12, the judge will also consider his or her preference for the primary caretaker.
When deciding on a modification request, the biggest factor that a judge considers is what is in the best interest of the child.