Sugar Land Child Custody Modification Lawyers
Child custody arrangements in Sugar Land, TX can be incredibly difficult to navigate, and when you finally have an order in place it can be a relief for everyone involved. However, sometimes a child custody arrangement feels unfair to one party or it becomes impossible to maintain, or is no longer in the best interests of the child. Although court orders are legally binding, they can be changed, and a child custody lawyer can help you file a modification request and gather evidence as to why it is necessary.
Contact Skillern Firm
At Skillern Firm, we always prioritize the needs of children while fighting for the rights of our clients. Child custody cases can quickly become complex, so you need a law firm with the skills, resources, and experience necessary to handle your case. When you seek legal representation from us you will benefit from our approach to the attorney-client relationship. We take the time to get to know our clients and take a highly individualized approach to family law. We are always prompt to answer your questions and keep you involved in the process all the way through. Your child custody attorney will be highly skilled in mediation, as well as negotiation, which means that they can protect your interests from start to finish.
To arrange a consultation with one of our skilled Sugar Land child custody lawyers, call our Skillern Firm today at (936) 213-8479.
What Can Be Changed After a Divorce Decree Is Finalized?
Child custody, visitation, spousal support, and child support, can all be modified even after a divorce decree has been issued. Either parent can file for a modification or anyone else who is listed as a party in the current custody order. Other people who can file for a modification include anyone who has cared for the child for a minimum of six months, or certain blood relatives if the parents have died, or they are concerned for the child’s wellbeing.
When Can a Custody Order be Modified in Sugar Land, TX?
In accordance with The Texas Family Code, the court must make decisions based on the child’s best interests. For that reason, a child custody order can be changed at any time, although generally, the more time has passed the easier it becomes. In order to secure a custody modification, one of the following justifications must apply:
- The child has been in the care of someone other than the primary custodian for 6 months or more.
- The child is over 12 and expresses a preference to change their primary caregiver.
- There has been a material and substantial change in the circumstances of either parent, the child, or another party involved in the custody order.
When is a Modification in The Best Interests of the Child?
When determining what decision is in the child’s best interests, the Judge will usually aim to keep both parents in the child’s life, while minimizing disruption. They may also consider:
- The stability of each parent.
- The child’s preference if they are above the age of 12.
- The ability of each party to meet the child’s emotional and physical needs.
- The relationship the child currently has with each parent.
- The stability of the child’s primary residence.
- Potential harm to the child in each parent’s home.
What Qualifies as Material and Substantial Change?
For a child custody modification to be successful, you will usually need to evidence a “material and substantial change”. This is not defined in the Texas family code, however, some common examples include:
- One party interferes with visitation.
- One parent gets remarried.
- The child’s needs change.
- Relocation of a parent.
- Parental conflict.
- The child has relocated.
When Will the Court Modify a Child Support Order?
Child support can also be altered after a divorce agreement has already been finalized. Usually, the parent who earns the most is required to pay child support to the other unless they themselves are the primary custodian. The amount one party is required to pay in child support could be altered if:
- There has been at least three years since the original child support order, and the monthly amount owed in accordance with guidelines has changed by at least 20% or $100
- The circumstances of any party involved in the order have materially or substantially changed. For example, the child has to change medical needs, or the parent’s financial circumstances have changed.
Do Both Parents Need to Agree to The Modification in Sugar Land, Texas?
Although it is easier to obtain a child custody modification when both parents agree, it is also possible as a single party. The requirements and process in each case are different, and there are also other circumstances under which a modification may be granted.
If all parties agree then modification documents can be submitted jointly, which will usually make the process move quicker. At Skillern Firm, we are highly skilled in mediation. We can help you and your ex-spouse sit down and talk to each other to come to an agreement that works for everybody, and one which the court is likely to accept.
Sometimes mediation is not possible and parents cannot agree. Although the court may want to see that you have at least tried to reach an agreement, you can file a petition for modification without your spouse. A child custody lawyer can help you evidence to the Judge why changes are necessary.
If you file for a contested modification then the other parent will have 20 days to respond. If they fail to do so, and the Judge agrees to your request, then it will be approved by default. However, if they do respond then it will proceed as an agreed or contested modification.
Different Types of Child Custody Arrangements in Sugar Land Texas
In Sugar Land, TX, there are two primary forms of child custody, sole custody, and joint custody. You can request a modification to change from one to the other or to amend a joint custody arrangement to change how much time each parent has with the child.
Joint managing conservatorship is the most common arrangement and it means that both parents have the right to make decisions on behalf of the child such as educational and medical decisions, and both parents share parenting time. Joint custody can take many different forms. Usually, the child lives with one parent for the majority of the time, the custodial parent, and the other parent is awarded visitation. Common modifications include increasing visitation or altering it to meet changing needs.
Sole custody means all the rights and responsibilities fall to one party. This usually only happens if the other parent poses a risk to the child, such as a history of substance misuse or domestic violence. You may be concerned about the impact your ex-spouse has on your child and be fighting for sole custody, or you may be looking to fight for joint custody after turning your life around. Either way, a Sugar Land child custody attorney can help you gather the evidence you need, and guide you through the process.
Texas Child Custody Modification FAQ
Q: Can I refuse visitation if I am concerned about my child with the other parent?
A: If you are concerned about your child, then you should consult with an attorney. The visitation schedule is a legally binding order and the court will not look favorably on you if you try to interfere. An attorney can help you file a protection order so that you can keep your child safe while you seek a modification.
Q: Where do I file a modification case?
A: Your modification request must be filed in the same court where the original order was finalized. However, if the child has moved states for six months or more, you can request to change the court to the one with jurisdiction over where they currently live. Always speak to your attorney for advice on this process.
Q: Can I make temporary changes to a visitation schedule?
A: It is possible to apply for a temporary order and your attorney can help to streamline the process. Temporary orders have unique requirements and processes that can differ from those required for other modification requests. In order to give yourself the best possible chance of success, it is highly advisable that you speak with an experienced family law attorney to help with the process.
Child Custody Lawyers at Skillern Firm Today
If you need a child custody modification, then you should seek advice from an experienced family law attorney at Skillern Firm. We are committed to your best interests and will do everything possible to secure a favorable outcome. Give Skillern Firm a call today at (936) 213-8479 to arrange an initial consultation.