What Parents Should Know About Child Custody Modifications in Texas
For parents, there are few things more stressful or overwhelming than a child custody case—especially if there is a dispute over the terms. A final order or agreement can come as a great sense of relief. However, child custody is not necessarily static in Texas. A custody arrangement is always subject to modification if good cause can be shown. In this blog post, our Fort Worth child custody lawyer explains the key things that parents should understand about child custody modification in Texas.
What is a Child Custody Modification?
Technically, Texas no longer uses the terms “child custody” or “child visitation.” Instead, these concepts are largely covered by the terms “conservatorship” (custody) and “possession and access” (visitation). Under Tex. Fam. Code § 156.001, any existing parenting order/agreement can be modified. A modification is simply a change to the child custody arrangement.
The Standard: A Material and Substantial Change in Circumstances
A modification hearing is not an appeal in a child custody case. It is also not an opportunity for a parent to try to get a different outcome that they prefer. Texas courts will not approve a custody or visitation modification simply because a parent is unhappy with their current situation. Instead, the legal standard is as follows:
- A party seeking a child custody modification in Texas must prove that there has been a material and substantial change in circumstances.
In other words, the party who is petitioning for a change must prove that something substantial is different from when the custody order/agreement initially took effect. If there has been a material and substantial change, a Texas court can grant a custody modification that is in the best interests of the child.
Three Categories of Child Custody Modification Cases in Texas
Not all child custody modification cases are the same. In some circumstances, it is relatively straightforward for parents to get a modification. In other cases, one parent may face sharp opposition from their co-parent. They may need to present a compelling case to justify a custody modification. Here are three basic categories of custody modification cases in Texas:
- Joint Petition: Co-parents can seek a custody modification together. When possible, this is the best approach as Texas courts give considerable deference to parents who can reach an agreement.
- Default Judgment: If one parent wants a custody modification, they must submit proper notice to their co-parent. If that co-parent simply refuses to cooperate with the process at all, the court may issue a default judgment in favor of a modification.
- Modification Dispute: A parent can dispute their co-parent’s petition for a custody modification. If there is a dispute, a court hearing will be required. This issue is resolved under the best interests of the child standard.
Set Up a Confidential Consultation With a Fort Worth, TX Child Custody Lawyer
At The Law Office of Kyle Whitaker, our Texas child custody lawyer has extensive experience handling family law modifications. If you have any specific questions about custody modifications, please do not hesitate to contact us today. From our law office in Fort Worth, we provide child custody representation throughout the surrounding communities in North Texas.