When the court sets a child custody arrangement, the final settlement is not set in stone. The judge presiding over the case determines what the best situation is for the children at that point in time.
However, your circumstances change throughout life and what worked best for your children at the time of the divorce may not remain the best situation years down the road. If you or your former spouse encounter a change in life, you may wish to seek modification of child custody orders.
What factors lead to modification?
According to Texas statutes, there are certain conditions that may warrant a change in custodial arrangements, including the following:
- Custodial parent has abandoned his or her responsibilities for more than six months
- Child is at least 12 years old and chooses to have someone else act as primary caretaker
- Current situation is not conducive to the child’s emotional or physical health
- Abuse is present in either home
One parent may move a significant distance from the other, making it difficult to uphold the original visitation schedule. Furthermore, if one parent is incarcerated or comes down with a debilitating medical condition that makes it hard to continue care for the child, custody arrangements may need to change.
Where do you start?
In some cases, both parents may agree that a change in the custody order is warranted. After you file a written motion to modify custody, the other parent simply signs the paperwork. A judge will then review the request and determine what is in the child’s best interest.
If the other parent disagrees with the modification, they can object the request and appear at a hearing where the judge will listen to both sides before making a final decision.