When a Texas couple with minor children divorces, the custody order is a necessary and important part of the divorce judgment. Parents must continue to follow the order, as failing to do so can involve legal consequences and may ultimately even affect custody.
However, circumstances can change. Sometimes an order that made perfect sense initially may no longer work in a new situation. When this happens, you may request a modification of the custody order.
Modification by agreement
If you and your ex agree on the proposed changes, the two of you can submit your proposed new order to the court for approval. Most often, courts tend to approve joint requests.
Unilateral request for modification
In situations where you and your ex have a dispute about whether there should be changes or what they should consist of, the court may hold a hearing and listen to both sides.
What you need to prove
If you wish to modify a custody order in Texas, you must show either that the child is at least 12 years old and wants to change the current arrangements, or that there has been a substantial change in circumstances which makes the suggested changes better for the child than the provisions in the original order.
Changes that may necessitate a new order
Substantial changes may include relocation, remarriage, health condition or deployment. In some cases, you may seek sole custody based on allegations of child abuse, neglect or substance abuse by the other parent.
Common ways of modifying a custody order
Changes may consist of rearranging the visitation schedule; for example, when a parent moves far away, the schedule could include fewer but longer visits. When a parent's ability to interact with the child safely is in question, changes may include supervised or limited visitation, or even the absence of any contact.
When considering a modification request, courts usually apply the same factors to evaluate the child's best interests as when deciding on an original custody order. The court may take into account the child's wishes.