When parents divorce, they typically negotiate a parenting plan and Texas courts issue a child custody order. In many cases, this is not an easy process, and parents are reluctant to renegotiate it. However, life throws changes at you, whether you want them or not. When changes make an old child custody order unworkable, parents can request a modification.
Under Texas law, a child custody (also known as conservatorship) order may be modified under a number of circumstances. First of all, any modification of a child custody and visitation order must be in the best interests of the child. Second of all, the circumstances of the child or parent must have substantially and materially changed since either the date of the original order or the date on which a collaborative law or mediated settlement agreement was signed, whichever is first.
Alternatively, a child custody and visitation order may be modified if it is in the best interests of the child and the child, being of age 12 or older, has expressed his or her desire to the court of a preference as to which parent he or she wants to live with. Finally, a child custody and visitation order may be modified if the parent with the sole right to determine with whom the child will reside has voluntarily relinquished his or her right to the primary care of the child to another person for at least half a year, unless that parent is in the military, in which this provision would not apply.
Seeking a modification to a child custody or visitation order may be necessary under certain circumstances. However, due to the complexity of such decisions, as well as the fact that every family's dynamic and situation is different, such cases should not be handled alone. Instead, parents who want to modify an existing child custody or visitation order may want to seek legal advice before proceeding.