Life comes at you fast. One moment you are in the middle of your child custody case and the next you are years after the case just trying to make it all work in your life. Even in the most stable of families, there can be changes that arise that are difficult to identify and prepare for. This is what well-meaning parents like yourself think about from time to time. How can you and your family adjust your orders if necessary to the changing dynamics that your family is sure to encounter over the years?
Like it or not, change is a part of life. The more children you have, seemingly the more chance that you must become comfortable with. When you learn how to take change in stride it starts to improve your life in several different areas. Worrying about change is like worrying about the tides at the beach or clouds floating above your head. These things are going to happen whether you worry about them or not. Rather, you are better off considering each change as it comes and then moving forward with a plan based on those changes.
When you adjust to those changes in life you will encounter aspects of the former life that need to be brought up to speed. One of those areas concerns the court orders that were established the last time that you and your co-parent were in court. These court orders touched on all areas of life- from custody to possession, to child support, and everything in between. While they offered consistency and stability in your lives for a few years they now are more of a reminder of a time that no longer exists. With different circumstances in place, these child custody orders could stand to be updated in many areas. You and your family are trying to fit a round peg into a square hole or whatever that metaphor is.
The point is: that you need to see whether a custody order can be updated or changed. Are you stuck with that original custody order or is there a way to bring it up to speed with your new reality? That is what we are going to be discussing in today’s blog post from the Law Office of Bryan Fagan. What are the ways to update a custody order, which are the most effective, and what may be some of the areas where your order needs revision? We will walk you through all of this in today’s blog post.
Along the way, we hope that you encounter several issues that are relevant to your life. It can be gratifying to see a question that you’ve been wondering about answered here on our blog. It is ironic in an age where you have answers to questions scattered all over the internet to feel like you are all alone with your questions at a time like this. However, it is normal to feel that way given that much of the internet is not trustworthy when it comes to answering your specific questions. What’s more- your life may have produced unique situations.
When you take all of this into consideration, this blog post should be informative and helpful as you try and figure out what your next move will be when it comes to updating custody orders. If you have any questions along the way, please do not hesitate to contact the Law Office of Bryan Fagan. Our licensed family law attorneys offer free-of-charge consultations six days a week in person, over the phone, and via video. Whatever method is most appealing to you, our attorneys will see to it that we answer your questions and provide you with as much knowledge as possible. Come ready to ask questions, listen to answers, and gain a better understanding of the most critical issues in your child custody case.
What are the issues that may need an update in your court orders?
If you are like most parents in this situation, you may be wondering if you are the only family going through a specific type of problem. When you consider that several families in your shoes have gone through what you’re going through, the answer to your question is very likely that you are not in a unique position. We know from life experience that when you are going through a tough time it can feel like the world is continuing to spin and we are left standing still due to that problem we are experiencing. However, the reality is that many of us are going through problems now. Within the world of child custody, we see that families experience many of the same changes that require the filing of a lawsuit, as well.
This is one of the many advantages that you and your family can gain from working with one of the attorneys from the Law Office of Bryan Fagan. Yes, we have an experience level that is unsurpassed in the field of family law. You will be hard-pressed to find a law firm in Houston that has more collective experience in family law cases than we do. What that means is that we are better able to serve you as a client as a result. That experience allows us to provide advice quicker, file documents with more ease, negotiate more efficiently, and save you time and money. That is how we view each attribute that our firm possesses. Not as an opportunity to put something on an advertisement, but rather to better serve you as a client.
There are a range of issues that may need to be changed in your court orders. When you consider that there may be some significant changes that have occurred in your life since the last time you were in court, an update or a facelift on your court orders may be necessary. If you have felt like something needs to be changed in your court orders but are just not sure what that may be then let’s spend some time walking through the court orders in your case to see if we can pinpoint what those areas of change may be.
Changes related to conservatorship
You may be more familiar with the term “custody” but this is not a word that you will find in the Texas Family Code. Rather, the legal term that is used to refer to the rights and duties of a parent is “conservatorship.” When you are a conservator of your child that means that you hold certain legal rights to make decisions for him. Additionally, you have duties to make decisions on behalf of your child that are in the child’s best interests.
Focusing on these subjects is key. Many parents look at rights and duties as being of secondary importance to time as far as issues to focus on during a family law case. However, this is shortsighted. You should want to focus your time and attention on all areas of a case. Conservatorship is no exception. Within the rights that are a part of conservatorship is the right to determine the primary residence of your child. If you believe that you should have this right rather than your co-parent, then this may be the basis for a child custody modification.
Many times this situation comes up when you have a teenager who expresses a desire to come live with you on a “full-time” basis as opposed to your co-parent. In this situation, you have a decision to make as far as how to accommodate the wishes of your child. You may want to sit down and help him understand that you want to spend as much time together as possible but that the current conservatorship situation is in their best interests as far as living with your co-parent on a primary basis. Many parents will fall into the trap of wanting to make decisions that are in their own best interests rather than that of their children.
However, as a child grows up it may be a legitimate concern that he is not spending enough time with you. When there has been a material and substantial change in the circumstances in your household or that of your co-parent that gives you an opening and justification to file a modification case. Your child getting older does not necessarily qualify as a material and substantial change but you are moving closer to your child, getting a job that is work from home, or your child developing a special need since the last time that you were in court is more along the lines of what a court would look for.
Changes related to possession and visitation
Even if you are not trying to change the conservatorship orders of your case, you may still be interested in gaining more time with your child as far as physical possession is concerned. The logistics of being able to maintain a strong relationship with your child are important in this area. Depending upon the type of custody orders in your case you may simply want to gain an extra weekend here or there with your child. This is the case for many non-custodial parents who have a Standard Possession Order (SPO) with their child. This may have worked well for your family when first instituted some years ago but now your child and you may want to get an extra weekend here or there.
Or, you may have had supervised visitation right now as far as a possession schedule, and that no longer matches up with the reality of your life. Picture this, five years ago when you were going through a child custody case you were going through a tough time with your sobriety. You were a recovering alcoholic who was focused on doing better in their day-to-day life. However, even though you were no longer drinking you were still just a few months removed from a DWI. It did not make a lot of sense for you to take on the responsibility of the day-to-day care for your child at that time. His father became the primary conservator of your son.
You were awarded supervised visitation. This meant that you would go over to your ex-husband’s house to see your son every week. There, you could play with your son on a supervised basis without any concern about having to drive with your son. Would you ever drink with your son in the vehicle? Not likely but the court and your husband were not willing to risk that. As a result, you were awarded the parenting plan that you were and did not look back. You were happy to have the time that you received and wanted to do the best that you could to ensure that you were ready to gain more time when the opportunity presented itself.
Now is that time. In the past five years, you have attended AA counseling consistently and not sipped alcohol cross your lips. Your lifestyle has completely changed. You have good health habits and as a result, your personality and parenting methods have changed. Even though you have limited solo opportunities with your son you think that you are ready for more time with him. You bought a house only a couple miles from his father’s home. Transportation to and from these visits would be a breeze. You have even gotten that DWI expunged off your record.
Now you need to determine if the situation in your family constitutes a material and substantial change in circumstances. On top of that, is it in the best interests of your son to have more time with you? You would think so but want a second opinion. In addition to talking to your family and your child’s father, come into the Law Office of Bryan Fagan, and our attorneys can talk to you about the case, listen to your opinions and thoughts, and provide you with additional information that may help you decide moving forward.
Where to go from here if you want to see a change in your court orders
Modifying a court order is not a straightforward process. You need to understand whether the changes you are proposing are in the best interests of your child. Next, you also need to assess whether the changes meet the definition of material and substantial change in circumstances. These would be big changes that were not in place at the time of your last child custody case. If you can answer yes to both of these questions, then a modification may be something worth pursuing.
A modification case begins with a petition to be filed. That petition would be filed in the same court that issued your child custody orders. The petition should specify the part of your orders that you would like to modify as well. Be sure to be as clear as possible in your petition about what you want to see changed from your prior court order. The more specific you can be in your petition the more likely you are to get what you are asking for in the document.
We think that hiring an experienced family law attorney can also provide you with a great deal of benefits. For one, sometimes the toughest part of a case is the first step or two. In that case, an attorney can be invaluable to you because he knows how to start your case off on the right foot without encountering any unnecessary delay. Serving notice of the lawsuit having been filed is also a critical step in the case.
There will be opportunities to negotiate with your co-parent during the case. You should not assume that your case will make it to a judge. Rather, you will attend at least one mediation session before your temporary orders hearing. This way there are ways for you to reach out to your co-parent so that you can see just how much can be settled in the case before litigation. Overall, a modification case is not the simplest case and does usually benefit from having an experienced family law attorney by your side.
Thank you for choosing to spend part of your day with us here on our blog post at the Law Office of Bryan Fagan. It is with great pride that we can serve our neighbors in a variety of family law cases including modifications. Taking this case piece by piece allows you to understand better just what it takes to succeed in this type of environment. Any questions or concerns you may have while reading this blog post can be addressed in a free-of-charge consultation with one of our licensed family law attorneys.
Questions about the material contained in today’s blog post? Contact the Law Office of Bryan Fagan. Our licensed family law attorneys offer free-of-charge consultations six days a week in person, over the phone, and via video. These consultations are a great way for you to learn more about the world of Texas family law as well as how your family’s circumstances may be impacted by the filing of a divorce or child custody case.