Custody Modifications after Divorce
Custody Orders not Working? Modify them!
A modification of custody may be needed when things change after a divorce or custody order is signed by the Court. The Court that first signed the order retains jurisdiction over the children and has the continuing power make changes if, since the date of the original order, there has been a material and substantial change of circumstances. Examples are parents having drug or alcohol abuse problems, psychiatric problems, taking in psychotic new lovers, or simply not getting the job done as a parent. Also, when parents move or with to relocate with a child, there is need for modification. Child support modification is also common in the years following an initial divorce or custody order. At Schreier & Housewirth, we’ve helped hundreds of clients in Fort Worth, Tarrant County, and throughout north Texas modify court orders providing for the conservatorship and support of a child. Things change through the years and our experienced child custody attorneys can help you modify your existing child custody order to better suit your current needs and those of your children.
Modification of Child Custody Orders in Tarrant County
The Texas Family Code contains provisions for modification of the following:
- Times of Possession
- Determination of Residence
Some life events that may require modification of your court order are:
- A change in circumstances of a parent, for instance unemployment, drug abuse, alcohol abuse, domestic violence
- Relocation of a parent beyond the restricted geographic area
- Remarriage of a parent
- Changes in the child’s behavior or school performance
- The failure of a parent to visit the child as ordered
- A declaration of parental preference by a child 12 years of age or older
- A voluntary surrender of the child by the custodial parent
We all know that things change for families following divorce, or as children grow, however, a successful modification suit requires more. The Texas Family Code requires proof of, “a material and substantial change of circumstances” since the entry of the order to be modified and proof that the requested modification is in “the best interest of the child.” How will you know if your case justifies a modification? Consult with an experienced Fort Worth family law specialist.
Questions to Ask Your Lawyer Before Filing for Modification of Custody
Ask your lawyer some of these questions:
- What are my chances of achieving the result I seek?
- How stressful will the case be to my children?
- How much will it cost?
- Will my suit bring a “retaliatory” suit by the other parent?
If there's one thing you should know, it's this: don't start a modification case unless you are confident you'll win. At Schreier & Housewirth Family Law, we’ve been helping our Tarrant county clients answer these tough questions for over 20 years. Clients value our honest opinions and frank recommendations when it comes to custody modification suits.
Statement of Parental Preference by Child 12 years or Older
Possibly the biggest misconception in Texas child custody law is the belief that a child 12 years or older can “choose” where he or she wants to live. While the court is required to interview a child as to his or her wishes in a custody case, the child’s stated preference is only one factor the court will consider. When clients come to us for family law legal help, we invest our time in learning all the facts necessary to persuade a Tarrant county family judge that modification of custody is in the child’s best interest.
Some Factors to Consider Are:
- The child’s stated reasons for seeking to live with the other parent
- Whether the child has been bribed or otherwise influenced by the parent seeking modification
- The suitability of each parent to serve as primary custodian
- The prior level of involvement of the parent seeking primary custody
- The effect a modification will have on the child’s education and friendships
Remember, that greater weight will be given to a child’s stated preference of primary parent if the child is mature and able to fully articulate his or her reasons for desiring a modification. Stated another way, Tarrant county family law judges generally give more weight to the declaration of a 16 year old than they do a 12 year old.
Modification of Custody within One Year of Entry of Prior Order
Tarrant County family law courts discourage continued child custody litigation and repeated attempts to modify a custody arrangement. The Texas Family Code specifies only three instances in which a custody order may be modified less than a year after entry of the underlying order.
- The child’s present environment may endanger the child’s physical health or significantly impair the child’s emotional development
- The primary conservator consents to the modification
- The primary conservator has relinquished possession of the child for at least six months
At Schreier and Housewirth, our lawyers help our clients obtain emergency custody orders to protect children from a dangerous home life. We are experienced Tarrant county child custody lawyers and know how to navigate a complex legal system so you can protect your children.
Modification of Custody Based on Parental Relocation
No discussion of modification of Texas Custody orders would be complete without a discussion of what Tarrant county child custody attorneys call a “relocation case.” If you divorced in the past ten years, chances are high that your divorce decree contains a “geographic restriction.” The divorce decree will state something to the effect that, so long as the non-primary conservator resides within Tarrant County and contiguous counties, the primary parent shall also be required to reside with the child in the same geographic area.
If you are the primary parent of a child will you be able to relocate? Generally, Tarrant county family law courts discourage these relocations and will deny an attempted modification of the geographic restriction. But, there is hope. You need Fort Worth lawyers who know Texas Family Law and can help you address the following factors in your modification case:
- The quality of the relationship between the non-primary parent and the child
- The nature and quantity of the child’s contacts with the non-primary parent
- The impact of the move on the quantity and quality of the child’s future contact with the other parent
- The motive for the parental relocation and for opposing the relocation
- The feasibility of preserving the relationship after the move
Obviously, a successful relocation case in Tarrant County requires careful consideration and planning with an experienced Tarrant county child custody lawyer. As a Board Certified Family Law Specialist, Fort Worth attorney Gregory L. Housewirth helps clients find success in the most difficult of situations.