Can you change child custody?  Christman,

Dugan Kelley, Shareholder

Kelley & Clarke, PC Can Help

You are desperate to change the existing child support order, but you have no idea how to do it. You have no idea what the Court will look at in making its decision. You have an agreement with your ex-spouse to make changes. Your pre-existing custody order was made years ago and now some of the provisions are no longer relevant or practical. There is any number of reasons why a prior child custody order should be changed. There are specific steps that need to be followed in order to achieve success.

Steps are needed to make sure that your changes are valid: You need to understand that until a Court has entered a new custody order, you must follow the existing one. For any valid changes, you will need to have certain legal documents prepared like a Petition to Modify the Parent-Child Relationship, Order to Modify, or other documents. You also need to be prepared to have your ex served with legal notice of the changes.

My ex and I agree to change the custody arrangement: You will need to put all the changes in writing. You will still want the changes to be approved and entered by a Judge! You will want to prepare a Petition to Modify the Parent-Child Relationship and also an Order to Modify the Parent-Child Relationship. The Judge will review your Petition and the Order. If you and your ex agree on all the changes, this is the easiest process to making and getting the changes entered as a new order by a Judge.

My ex and I don’t agree to change child custody arrangement: Your lawyer will need to persuade the Court that:

1. The changes you want are best for the child; AND

2. The circumstances supporting the current custody order have materially and substantially changed; OR

a. The child is at lest 12 years old and has told the Judge, who he/she wants to live with; OR

b. The primary managing parent has allowed someone else to have primary custody of the child for at least 6th months (does not apply to active duty military deployment parents).

What is Material and Substantial to Change Child Custody?

Material and Substantial changes involve a fact intensive inquiry by the Judge. So, your lawyer will need to be prepared to clearly articulate why you want the change.

Here are some of the general reasons Texas Courts have determined justify a substantial or material change:

• Abuse or neglect of a parent;
• Excessive conflict or inability to communicate between the child’s parents;
• Relocation of a parent;
• Changed in the child’s age or needs;
• Remarriage of a child’s parent;
• Frequent moves or instability by one parent who has primary custody;
• The births of new siblings or step-siblings;
• Criminal conviction of a child’s parent;
• Repeated violations of the final decree or child custody order(s) by a parent.

Understand Your Rights that May Allow You to Change Child Custody!

If you have questions or would like to discuss your particular circumstances in more detail, please contact our office to schedule a free initial consultation. We look forward to the opportunity to serve your legal needs.   You can also see us at Facebook.