It’s normal for families to outgrow an existing Texas child custody arrangement. When an agreement over custody stops working for both parties, you may need to return to court to request a modification of an existing child custody order. However, this can be harder and more complicated than it sounds.
It’s possible to modify custody in Texas successfully. To achieve this, you need to understand the law and provide the evidence that a judge will be looking for during your custody modification hearing.
Here’s what you need to know about the possible grounds for custody modification in Texas.
Grounds for Custody Modification: Understand Texas Child Custody Laws
Texas child custody laws have two priorities: the child’s best interests and the parent-child relationship. Court-ordered custody agreements are designed to support a child’s well-being.
The legal system believes that two involved parents are best for the child. Thus, family court judges tend to make rulings that allow both parents an equal presence in a child’s life (unless there are extenuating circumstances such as abuse or neglect).
Texas courts typically take the view that only significant life changes merit altering an existing child custody agreement. This view is intended to protect the child’s interests by limiting major changes to their schedule, home life, and family structure. This way, the child can flourish in a consistent, structured environment.
However, sometimes there are new issues that need to be addressed and incorporated into the custody arrangement.
How Major Life Changes Impact a Custody Modification
Major changes are a natural part of life and are also the most common reason for successfully altering an existing child custody agreement in Texas.
The law describes a significant life change as a “substantial change in circumstances.” This is a conveniently broad definition, and it’s possible to prove that any number of situations meet the criteria for changing an existing custody agreement.
Common situations that can be grounds for custody modification include:
- Altered living situation
- Changes to parent’s employment, income, or work schedule
- Moving to a new city or state
- Changes to family structure
- Death of a family member
- Changes to the child’s needs (e.g., a new health issue)
What all these points have in common is that they imply that the existing custody agreement does not adequately or fairly take the new circumstances into account.
It’s important to note that these changes alone are not enough to guarantee that a custody agreement will be modified, and they’re only a starting point.
You will need to work with a family law attorney who can help you gather evidence about this change and present an argument to the court. An attorney such as myself can help you explain how these changes have made a significant impact on your relationship with your child and why the change merits the alteration you’re requesting.
You’ll also need to make the case that your request for modification serves the child’s best interests and is intended to strengthen the parent-child relationship.
Other Possible Grounds for Custody Modification
While major life changes constitute the most common reason for modifying custody in Texas, it’s not the only one. You can successfully alter custody agreements in Texas for other reasons, including:
- Preference of a child who is over the age of 12
- Violation of the custody agreement by one parent
- Concerns for the child’s safety
- Questions of parental fitness — substance abuse, mental health, etc.
- Custody relinquished by one parent
In most of these situations, a successful outcome is dependent on individual circumstances. You’ll need to provide evidence that the other parent’s failure to uphold the rights and duties of a parent serves as sufficient grounds for custody modification.
Texas courts don’t take attempts at custody modification lightly. If you file a motion to alter custody, make sure you have reasons that will hold up in court. Otherwise, you can find yourself facing fines for harassment of the other parent or filing a frivolous suit.
Find Expert Help with Custody Modification in Texas
The best way to modify an existing child custody order is by working with an experienced family law attorney. An attorney makes the process much easier, and there’s a higher chance of achieving the modification outcome you want.
I’m Blair Parker, an experienced Texas family law attorney. When you come to me in need of a custody modification, I provide compassionate, dedicated representation. I offer legal advice, help establish grounds for custody modification, and argue for your desired outcome in court.
When you work with me, the uncertainty of legal issues recedes, and you can rest assured that an experienced legal representative is doing everything possible to fight for the best interests of your child.
I currently help parents in Fort Bend County, Brazoria County, and Harris County navigate the legalities of child custody modifications.
Contact my offices at 281-944-5485 or 979-267-7660 to further discuss the grounds for custody modification. I’ll help you get started on the process of successfully modifying the original custody order!