What happens if you need to modify your child custody order? Perhaps your work hours have changed, or you are moving to a different location. Texas Courts will agree to modify a child custody order in limited circumstances. They will only do so when the modification is in the child’s best interest and when doing so is in compliance with Texas laws. When both parents agree that the change should occur, they can pursue an uncontested child custody modification. Obtaining a modification can be challenging, but it is typically easier when both parents agree that the change needs to happen.
Requirements for Modifying a Child Custody Order in Texas
Courts will only modify a child custody order in Texas when several elements have been proven. First, the change must be in the best interest of the child. Additionally, the parent or parents pursuing the change need to prove that the child’s circumstances, the parents, or another person affected by the order have materially or substantially changed. They must prove that the circumstances have changed since the date of the current order or the date of the settlement agreement on which the current order is based.
When the child involved is 12 years old or older, the parent who requests modification needs to show that the child has expressed a preference for his or her primary residence. Additionally, a court will modify an existing order if the person who has the exclusive right to designate the child’s primary residence voluntarily relinquishes the primary care in possession of the child to someone else for at least six months.
What Happens When Both Parents Agree to Change the Child Custody Order?
Many parents who get divorced can work together effectively as co-parents. They understand that life is busy and complicated and are flexible when making changes to the custody order. For example, suppose one parent has an important work meeting that cannot be moved during the time when they exchange children every week. The other co-parents may agree to push the exchange by two hours to accommodate the work meeting. Doing so violates the child custody order, but it isn’t a significant modification. In most cases, when both parents agree, this type of change does not require Court approval or modifying the child custody order.
Significant Changes to the Custody Order Require a Ruling From the Court
Even when both parents agree to modify the child custody order, they will need court approval if the modification is significant. For example, if the change would affect child support payments or significantly change the terms of the child custody order, the court will need to be involved. Parents cannot make significant changes on their own, even if they are both happy to do so and in agreement.
When both parents agree that the child custody order needs to be modified, they can submit their petition for modification to the court. The modification is considered uncontested because neither parent contests the proposed changes, and they agree that the change or changes need to occur. The petition needs to include evidence demonstrating that the modification meets the legal requirements and is necessary. The judge assigned to the case will review and decide on the request for modification. In some cases, the judge may require a hearing where the parents can present evidence and witnesses. In other cases, a hearing will not be necessary, and the judge will decide to grant or reject the petition to modify the child custody order.
What if My Co-Parent Will Not Agree to a Necessary Change?
Modifying a child custody order is not always easy. Many couples spend significant time and resources during the divorce process and do not want to change the child custody order, especially if the divorce was recent. Even if the change is necessary for you, your co-parent may disagree with you. Agreeing with your co-parent before taking the matter to court can benefit everyone involved. You may be able to use a mediator, religious advisor, or parenting coordinator to help you and your spouse agree with the proposed change. Parents can even stipulate what type of dispute resolution process they would like to decide child custody matters in their parenting plan.
Contested Modifications to Child Custody Orders
Ultimately, if you and your spouse cannot agree on the proposed change, Modifying the custody order will be considered a contested issue. You will need to take the matter to court for a judge to decide. After filing a petition to modify the court order, The court may require the parents to engage in mediation to try to agree. If a parent alleges abuse or another safety concern during this process, the court may require an evaluation. There will typically be a hearing during which both parents can present evidence supporting their positions.
Depending on how backed up the courts are at the time, parents may wait a few weeks or even a few months before the hearing occurs. However, parents can request an expedited hearing if they believe the child or children faces immediate safety risks. While waiting for the hearing, parents must follow the child custody order that is currently in place. Once the hearing is completed, the court can grant either parents’ requested modification, implement different changes, or decline to modify the child custody order. When the court declines to modify the order, the current order will remain in place, and both parents will be required to follow it.
Affordable, Flat-Rate Legal Services for Uncontested Child Custody Modification
At Divorce Concierge, we understand that many Texas residents want to save money, time, and stress by pursuing an uncontested divorce. This mindset extends to modifying child custody orders. When your circumstances change, and you need to modify your child custody order, the process is much easier when both parents agree to the change. Divorce Concierge can help you modify your order affordably and quickly when you and your co-parent agree to the changes. Contact the McKinney, Texas, child custody attorneys at Divorce Concierge today to schedule a free consultation and learn more about our affordable, flat-rate legal services.