There are questions on how to modify child custody Order in Texas.
Under Texas Family Code 156.101, a parent in good standing can modify a child custody order. The court will allow this change if it is substantial and material.
What does “material” and “substantial” change mean? Well, these terms are not defined in the Code. However, the terms are not broad; the Code gives the judges broad discretion in deciding if a change is ‘substantial’ or ‘material’.
The Code states:
(a) The court may modify an order that provides for the appointment of a conservator of a child, that provides the terms and conditions of conservatorship, or that provides for the possession of or access to a child if modification would be in the best interest of the child and:
(1) the circumstances of the child, a conservator, or other party affected by the order have materially and substantially changed since the earlier of:
(A) the date of the rendition of the order; or
(B) the date of the signing of a mediated or collaborative law settlement agreement on which the order is based;
(2) the child is at least 12 years of age and has expressed to the court in chambers as provided by Section 153.009 the name of the person who is the child’s preference to have the exclusive right to designate the primary residence of the child; or
(3) the conservator who has the exclusive right to designate the primary residence of the child has voluntarily relinquished the primary care and possession of the child to another person for at least six months.
(b) Subsection (a)(3) does not apply to a conservator who has the exclusive right to designate the primary residence of the child and who has temporarily relinquished the primary care and possession of the child to another person during the conservator’s military deployment, military mobilization, or temporary military duty, as those terms are defined by Section 153.701 .
Common examples of substantial change:
- Remarriage of one parent
- Child who is now over 12 years old prefers one parent over the parent with physical custody
- Where child’s current environment is harmful and dangerous (ex: drug abuse, drug exposure, sexual abuse, family violence etc)
- One parent becomes incapacitated and unable to care for child
- Relinquishment of child by parent with physical custody for more than 6 months (excluding military deployment)
- The previous order was rendered more than 3 years ago
How can I modify my Child Custody Order?
To modify your child custody order in Texas, you must file a petition to modify conservatorship. You must file the paperwork in the court where the current Order was filed and signed.
It is important that your Petition has all the important information. Some volunteer/legal aid pages have templates you can fill out; however, it is beneficial to talk to a private attorney before filing for modification.