Rehashing a custody dispute after the divorce can be very distressing to everyone involved and might do more harm than good. Thus, we encourage anyone considering asking the court for child custody modifications to consider out-of-court remedies first. Resort to a courtroom battle only when necessary.
The attorneys at the Law Office of Bryan Fagan, PLLC, can speak with you about all of your options in handling this particularly sensitive situation.
Houston Child Custody Modification Attorneys
At the Law Office of Bryan Fagan, PLLC, we understand that situations may have changed regarding your children’s custody. We will ensure that they have the best possible living situation following the modification of your child custody agreement.
If you’re a resident of the greater Houston area consisting of Harris, Montgomery, Fort Bend, Waller, Washington, and Grimes counties and have questions concerning child custody modification in Texas, get in touch with our attorneys schedule a free consultation to discuss the particulars of your case.
It is always important to consider why you want to modify your custody arrangements. Doing it to “get back at” your ex-spouse is never an acceptable reason and will probably hurt your relationship with your children more than help it.
However, there are plenty of valid reasons to consider modifying a custody agreement, including a change in financial resources, better educational opportunities for the child, serious illness or injury of a child or parent, or the child or parent’s preferences.
Out of Court Options
Most parents do not realize that they can choose to modify their custody agreement on their own. Courts almost always agree to the parents’ wishes, as long as they are in the child’s best interest. It is perfectly acceptable to ask the court to make an agreed-to modification of the order, and the court will almost always do so.
It is also possible for the parents to bypass the court altogether and agree that the child will live with one parent instead of the other without formally modifying the order. However, this could be a risky maneuver for the parent taking custody of the child, as the other parent may decide to enforce the still-valid order at any time and take the child back. The risk diminishes after relinquishing the child for over six months, yet the court may still enforce the original order.
Your attorney can explain the risks and benefits of choosing to handle your custody arrangement out of court and help you make the best decision for your family.
Modification by the Court
Courts modify possession orders only if it benefits the child and meets one of these three criteria:
- Changed Circumstances: the circumstances of one of the child’s parents must have materially and substantially changed.
- Child’s Request: the child (age 12 or older) files a written request with the court
- Relinquishment: the custodial parent has given the child to the other parent for at least 6 months.
Examples of changed circumstances include moving very far away or changing your lifestyle significantly (such as starting a new job, which would require the child to be alone at night). There is no clear Texas law regarding whether remarriage is a significant, material change.
You should disclose any changes in lifestyle or location to your lawyer so that he can help you decide whether those changes might be material and significant.
Child Abuse and Family Violence
A parent’s conviction for child abuse or family violence-related offense, or an order of deferred adjudication against the parent, constitutes a change of circumstances justifying order modification.
Limitations on Modification
Children need a stable environment. The State of Texas discourages too many changes to the child’s primary residence. Courts typically reject motions to alter custody arrangements filed within a year of a previous custody order modification. However, the court will allow for the second modification if:
- The child’s present environment may endanger the child’s physical health or emotional development, OR
- The person who has the right to designate the child’s residence consents and modification is in the child’s best interest, OR
- The child has been relinquished for at least 6 months.
If you want to know more about what you can do, CLICK the button below to get your FREE E-book: “Child Custody E-Book”
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- Courts require valid reasons for modifying visitation rights
Bryan Fagan, a native of Atascocita, Texas, is a dedicated family law attorney inspired by John Grisham’s “The Pelican Brief.” He is the first lawyer in his family, which includes two adopted brothers. Bryan’s commitment to family is personal and professional; he cared for his grandmother with Alzheimer’s while completing his degree and attended the South Texas College of Law at night.
Married with three children, Bryan’s personal experiences enrich his understanding of family dynamics, which is central to his legal practice. He specializes in family law, offering innovative and efficient legal services. A certified member of the College of the State Bar of Texas, Bryan is part of an elite group of legal professionals committed to ongoing education and high-level expertise.
His legal practice covers divorce, custody disputes, property disputes, adoption, paternity, and mediation. Bryan is also experienced in drafting marital property agreements. He leads a team dedicated to complex family law cases and protecting families from false CPS allegations.
Based in Houston, Bryan is active in the Houston Family Law Sector of the Houston Bar Association and various family law groups in Texas. His deep understanding of family values and his professional dedication make him a compassionate advocate for families navigating Texas family law.