Child custody arrangements are not set in stone and can be modified after a divorce is finalized. If both parents agree to proposed modifications they simply need to submit the revised custody arrangement to the court for approval.
Requests for modifications where parents do not agree are more challenging and require assistance from the court. When reviewing motions to modify child custody arrangements, the court will always keep the best interest of the child in mind.
Circumstances for modification
You must have a valid reason for requesting the modification to your custody agreement. Some of the common reasons include:
- A job change or relocation: Changes to a parent’s job may make the original custody agreement impractical.
- Safety concerns: If you suspect abuse or have concerns about the safety of your child in the other parent’s home you can request a revision of your custody arrangement.
- Child is older: In Texas, children who are at least 12 years old can have a say in which parent they live with. If an older child now wishes to spend more, or less, time with a parent a modification can be requested.
- Custody violation: If a parent is in clear violation of the custody agreement, the other parent can request a modification to the custody arrangement.
How does the process work?
The first step toward requesting a modification is contacting the county clerk where the original custody order was made and asking for the documents to start the motion to modify. Once you have completed the documents they need to be filed with the county clerk. If you, or the child, now live in a different state you may need to file your case elsewhere.
When you file your motion to modify, you need to request a copy be served to the other parent. A sheriff or other official will deliver the papers to the respondent. This will let the other parent know you are requesting a modification.
After they have been served with the documents, there is a waiting period allowing the respondent to answer the claim. Once they have answered, or enough time has passed, a hearing can be set. At the hearing you can plead your case, but the final decision is up to the courts.
Remember, the court will consider the best interest of the child and act accordingly. If the requested modification is based only on your convenience or unfounded claims against the other parent it will likely not be approved.