Parents usually finalize child custody arrangements at the time of a divorce. Others – such as unmarried parents – may finalize an agreement independent of a divorce. The agreement includes parenting time and visitation arrangements, as well as other issues pertaining to decision-making for the child.
Whatever the case, you may find after several years that the agreement no longer meets your needs or those of your child. For instance, you may require changes to an agreement to account for the fact that you are relocating. Or you may become worried about your child spending time in the other parent’s home if you believe it is a poor environment.
The initial agreement may require changes to reflect the new realities. In such cases, Texas laws allow you to modify a child custody agreement.
How will the court decide whether to agree to a child custody modification?
Just because you believe you have valid and legal grounds to modify the child custody order doesn’t mean that a Dallas court will agree with you. When you ask the court for a modification, it will take the following factors into consideration.
- Have your circumstances, or the circumstances of your spouse or child, changed significantly since finalizing the agreement?
- Has the child informed the judge that he or she wants a change in the agreement (if the child is at least 12 years old)?
- Has the conservator who gets to choose the child’s primary residence voluntarily handed over the care of the child to another conservator?
What are the circumstances that may qualify for a child custody modification?
Based on the above, a court in Texas may allow a modification in any of the following circumstances.
- The conservator who is entitled to choose the child’s primary residence is relocating with the child
- The other conservator is relocating
- The remarriage of one of the parents
- A change in the physical or mental health of one of the parents that makes it difficult for him or her to adhere to the terms of the earlier custody agreement
- Criminal acts by the parent
- Any actions by a parent that endanger the physical or emotional safety of the child
In any matters that involve child custody, it is best if both parents can come to mutual agreement. If you can reach an agreement, finalizing the modification can simply be a matter of drafting the new custody agreement and getting a judge to approve it. However, if the parents cannot come to an agreement, the court will intervene. Any decision that the court makes is binding for both parents.
Get Help Filing a Motion to Modify a Child Custody Order
If you want to make modifications to your current child custody order, speak to a family lawyer in Dallas for help protecting your parental rights. Call 214-265-7630 to speak with attorney Julie Johnson. You can also schedule an appointment by filling out our online contact form.