Three Different Reasons Why A Texas Judge Will Modify A Child Custody Order/Agreement
Going through a child custody dispute is never easy. It can come as an enormous sense of relief when you finalized a custody order/custody agreement. Yet, in some ways, a custody case is never truly finalized until the child becomes an adult. In Texas, the terms of a custody order or custody agreement are subject to modification. In this article, our Houston and Galveston child custody attorneys highlight three reasons why a Texas court will change the terms of a custody order or custody agreement.
- Substantial Change in Circumstances
In Texas, the concept of child custody is referred to as the “allocation of parental responsibilities.” Parental responsibilities are allocated in a manner that is consistent with the best interests of the child. Custody is subject to modification for a substantial change in circumstances.
Under Texas Family Code § 156.101, custody and visitation can be modified if there has been a material and significant change since the initial order/agreement was finalized. As an example, imagine that one parent relocated out of the Houston area to take a new job. A parental relocation may warrant a modification to the custody arrangement.
Parents can jointly petition for a modification of custody and visitation based on a material change in circumstances. However, that is not required. One parent can seek a modification over the objections of the other. Whether the court will approve such a contested child custody modification depends on the specific circumstances of the case.
- Voluntarily Relinquishment of Certain Parental Rights
A custody order or custody agreement could also be altered if one parent agrees to voluntarily relinquish certain rights. In general, Texas courts give parents considerable deference to make their own decisions when they are both on the same page. For example, imagine that the parent with primary custody feels that they are no longer up to the task. They could potentially voluntarily relinquish primary physical possession to their co-parent. A court must confirm that any such change is in the best interests of the child.
- Child Preference (Older and Mature Children)
Children are minors. They do not have the right to make their own custody arrangement in Texas. That being said, state law does allow older and more mature children an opportunity to give input if they wish to do so. Under Texas Family Code § 156.101(2), a child who is 12 years old or older may be allowed to express preference regarding custody and visitation. The court may modify an existing custody order or custody agreement on the grounds that it is inconsistent with a child’s reasonably expressed preference.
Schedule a Confidential Consultation With a Child Custody Lawyer
At Lindamood & Robinson, P.C., our child custody attorneys are compassionate, reliable advocates for clients. If you have any questions about child custody modifications, we are here as a resource. Contact us now for a strictly private case review. From our Houston law office, we provide child custody representation throughout Southeast Texas, including in Harris County, Fort Bend County, Galveston County, Colorado County, and Wharton County.