As a Fort Worth family law attorney, I get many questions about child custody modifications because circumstances often change and what made sense in the prior order may no longer be in your child’s best interest.
In some cases, that change is dramatic, such as one of the parents going to jail. Sometimes, sadly, a parent has become physically abusive to the child or children, and quick action must be taken. This involves an emergency restraining order and a hearing within 14 days.
In other cases, circumstances gradually change, and the old custody arrangements no longer work. For example, a parent who was designated as primary parent may have relinquished that role to the other parent. Or, the non-primary parent may be able to exercise additional visitation than they were able to do when the prior order was signed.
Usually, the client for this service has two questions:
- Can I do a child custody modification?
- Should I do one?
In terms of the first question, there are really three scenarios:
- Material change in circumstances – To get a child custody modification, you must be able to demonstrate that there has been a significant change in the situation that affects the well-being of the child or children.
- Other parent has relinquished control – For example, the parent that the court originally designated as primary isn’t really doing most of the parenting. A child custody modification can change who is primary, adjust child support, and rework the possession and access schedule.
- Child over 12 has expressed a preference – In these cases, judges have wide latitude. The law in Texas requires that the child be interviewed and his or her preference considered, but that does not mean that the court must do what the child has asked for.
Whether you should seek a child custody modification depends on your unique circumstances and you should contact an attorney to see if a modification is right for you and your child. For a no-cost consultation, call (817) 349-8120.