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When can one modify a child custody order in Texas?

When parents go through a divorce in Texas, they generally result in the parents having a child custody order. These orders govern which parent will be making decisions for the children and when each parent will have the children with them. These initial child custody orders are made either by the agreement of the parents or by a judge after analyzing a number of factors to determine what is in the child's best interest.

However, things can change for both the parents and the children over the years. A child custody order will remain in effect until the child is emancipated, which could be a number of years depending on when the order went into effect. What was ordered initially may no longer be in the child's best interest or the parenting plan may no longer be feasible. In these types of situations, a parent may be able to modify the order.

However, certain criteria must be met before a parent can ask for a modification. It cannot simply be because the parent does not like the current order. A parent must prove that certain things must have occurred first. One is that the circumstances have materially and substantially changed from the date of the original order; the second is that the child is over 12 years old and expressed to the judge his or her preference on primary residence; or the third is that the parent who had the primary residence voluntarily decided to relinquish primary care of the child.

Life for people in Texas can take many twists and turns. This is true for parents and for children. Sometimes the changes in people's lives may make it necessary to modify a child custody order. However, the parent seeking the change must prove that there are grounds to modify it. These cases are very fact specific though. Experienced attorneys understand how to apply the facts of a situation to the law and may be a useful resource.

Source: Texas State Legislature, "Family Code, Title 5, Subtitle B, Chapter 156," accessed on July 25, 2017

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