Texas Child custody battles can be very emotionally upsetting, particularly for the children involved. After a divorce, children and adults need time to heal, adjust, and come to terms with their new living arrangements.
It is very important to remember that a rehashing of a custody dispute after the divorce is over can be very distressing to everyone involved, and might do more harm than good. We encourage anyone who is considering asking the court to modify their custody arrangement to consider out-of-court remedies first, and resort to a courtroom battle only when absolutely 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 the custody of your children, and we will work to 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 and 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 preferences of the child or parent.
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 wishes of the parents, as long as they are in the best interest of the child. 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. This risk decreases after the child has been relinquished for more than six months, but there is still the possibility that the court might 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 will modify an order regarding possession of the child only if the modification is in the best interest of the child, and one of these three tests is met:
- Changed Circumstances: the circumstances of one of the parents or the child 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
If a parent is convicted of child abuse or an offense involving family violence, or an order of deferred adjudication is entered against the parent, this is a change of circumstances warranting modification of the order.
Limitations on Modification
Children need a stable environment. The State of Texas discourages too many changes to the child’s primary residence. Courts will usually deny a motion to modify the custody arrangement if the motion is filed within a year of a modification to the child custody order. 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.
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Law Office of Bryan Fagan, PLLC | Houston, Texas Divorce Lawyers
The Law Office of Bryan Fagan, PLLC routinely handles matters that affect children and families. If you have questions regarding divorce, it's important to speak with one of our Houston, TX Divorce Lawyers right away to protect your rights.
Our divorce lawyers in Houston TX are skilled at listening to your goals during this trying process and developing a strategy to meet those goals. Contact Law Office of Bryan Fagan, PLLC by calling (281) 810-9760 or submit your contact information in our online form. The Law Office of Bryan Fagan, PLLC handles divorce cases in Houston, Texas, Cypress, Klein, Humble, Kingwood, Tomball, The Woodlands, Houston, the FM 1960 area, or surrounding areas, including Harris County, Montgomery County, Liberty County, Chambers County, Galveston County, Brazoria County, Fort Bend County and Waller County.