Houston Child Custody Modification Lawyers
Few family law issues create as much emotion as establishing child custody. When a divorce is handled fairly and reasonably, it should create a sense of relief for everyone involved when it is finalized. However, circumstances change, and sometimes a child custody order that once worked for you no longer makes sense. It may no longer be viable for you, or it could no longer be in the best interests of the child.
Fortunately, child custody orders can be changed. Regardless of whether you have sole custody or joint custody, you can seek a modification, under the right circumstances. Changing a divorce decree isn’t easy, but fortunately, our team of Houston child custody lawyers at Skillern Firm have the skills, experience, and resources necessary to handle your case.
Contact Skillern Firm
A Texas child custody modification must be in the child’s best interest if it is to be accepted by the court. Our team at Skillern Firm will work tirelessly to protect children, and fight for the rights of our clients. Our approach to the attorney-client relationship is unparalleled. We take the time to get to know our clients and offer a highly personalized approach. We are equally skilled around the negotiation table, as we are in the courtroom, meaning that we can handle even the most complex cases. If you want to discuss your case with one of our skilled Houston child custody lawyers, then call our law firm today at (936) 213-8479.
What Can Be Changed After a Divorce Decree Is Finalized?
Child custody, the visitation schedule, and child support can all be modified even after a divorce has been finalized. Parents can sometimes agree that a modification is necessary, or a single party can file a petition for modification. Certain people other than the child’s parents can also file a petition for modification, such as:
- Someone who has had actual care, control, or possession of the child for a minimum of six months.
- Anyone who is listed as a party under the current custody order.
- Certain blood relatives of the child if both of the child’s parents agree to the modification, the child is in physically or emotionally harmful circumstances, or if the parents have died.
When Can I Modify a Custody Order in Houston, TX?
The court is required to make decisions based on a child’s best interests and will usually listen to applications for a modification under the following circumstances:
- There has been a material change in the circumstances of one of the parents, the child, or someone else involved in the custody order.
- The person with primary custody has allowed someone else to be the child’s primary caregiver for a minimum of 6 months.
- The child is 12 years or older and expresses that they wish to change their primary caregiver.
When is a Modification in The Best Interests of the Child?
The court will consider many things when determining whether modifying a child custody agreement is in the child’s best interest. Some factors they may consider include:
- Each parent’s ability to meet the child’s needs now and in the future.
- The relationship each parent has with the child.
- The stability of the child’s primary residence, including who else lives there and the work schedule of the primary caregiver.
- Potential harm to the child in each parent’s home.
- The child’s preference (if they are 12 years or older).
What Qualifies as Material and Substantial Change?
In order to change a divorce decree, you must usually evidence a “material and substantial change”. Although this is not defined in the Texas family code, some common examples include:
- One parent gets remarried.
- One parent interferes with visitation.
- The child has been moved around a lot.
- Parental conflict.
- The child’s needs change.
- Relocation of a parent.
When Will the Court Modify a Child Support Order?
Following a divorce, usually, the highest-earning spouse is ordered to pay child support payments unless they themselves are the primary custodian. The reasons for which a court may consider modifying a child support order may be due to:
- The circumstances of any party involved in the child support order, having materially or substantially changed. For example, one parent has lost a job, or the child is moving on to further education.
- It has been three years or more since the child support order was issued, and the monthly amount owed, in accordance with guidelines, has now changed by at least 20% or $100.
In Texas, both parents do not need to agree to a modification in order for it to be successful, although it does help. When all parties involved agree to the modification, then documents can be submitted jointly to the court. Your Houston modification lawyer can help you file a petition to modify and propose a modification order. At Skillern Firm, our qualified mediators can help you and your ex-spouse figure out an arrangement that meets your child’s interests, protects your rights, and is one that the court is likely to accept.
If you also want to modify child support, then you will need to file a proposed child support order as well. Once you file the documents, in the same court where the original child custody order was issued, you will need to attend a hearing. Here the Judge may sign your proposal if they feel the changes are in the child’s best interests. At this point, you can file the signed order with the clerk, and your modification will be final.
Sometimes parents cannot agree on a modification, or it may not be safe or viable for you to even approach it with your ex-spouse. Although a contested modification will take longer, it is possible. You will still need to attend mediation to show the court that you have tried to reach an agreement amicably, and Skillern Firm can help you with this. When you can’t come to an agreement, your family law attorney will help you file a motion for modification on your own, and will help you evidence to the Judge why changes are necessary.
A default modification happens if you file for a modification and the other parties fail to respond. Once the other parent is served modification papers, they have 20 days to respond, if they do not respond then your modification case could be approved by default. However, if they file an appropriate response at any time before your case is finalized then it will not be completed by default. Instead, your case must proceed with either an agreed or contested modification.
Different Types of Child Custody Arrangements in Texas
If you are fighting to change a child custody arrangement, it might be helpful to understand the different options available to you in Houston, Texas. There are two primary forms of custody and visitation; joint custody and sole custody. A modification might mean changing from one to the other, or amending a joint custody arrangement so that one parent has more or less time with the child.
Joint custody or joint managing conservatorship is where both parents share rights and duties to the child. Including shared time and the right to make decisions on behalf of the child. Whoever has the child during the week is the primary conservator, and the other parent has visitation rights.
When one parent has sole custody, they are the sole managing conservator. That means they have the right to make all decisions in the child’s life such as their education and medical care. This usually only happens if the court is concerned about the other parents’ effect on the child’s wellbeing. Even where this is granted, they may still be awarded supervised visitation. Whether you are fighting for a modification to move to joint custody or sole custody, a family law attorney can help you gather the evidence you need, and guide you through the process.
Contact Skillern Firm Today
Changing a previous court order is not easy. But with the help of an experienced family law attorney at Skillern Firm, you have the best chance at obtaining a favorable result. With the Houston modification lawyers at Skillern Firm, you will receive highly personalized legal help. You can rest assured that our legal team will guide you from start to finish and will be prompt to answer your questions and put your mind at ease. We know how difficult a child custody case can be. But by prioritizing mediation and negotiation the proceedings run a lot smoother. We will help prevent communication from breaking down and will work tirelessly to protect your rights.
Give Skillern Firm a call today at (936) 213-8479 to arrange an initial consultation.