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Child Custody Modifications

The State will permit a modification with a child custody order if it’s “in the best interest of the child” according to the Texas Family Code Section 153.002. Circumstances change, the noncustodial parent may have more interest in the child, the child’s relationship with either parent may be different over time, and what used to work may simply not be functional anymore.  When this occurs, petitioning the court for a child custody modification is the right decision instead of working it out with your co-parent “under the table.”

With a court ordered modification, you can rest assured the court will enforce the modification if the other party is resistant to it. Plus, if you were previously denied custody, at a court-ordered modification hearing you can present evidence as to why having conservatorship over the child is within their best interests. To learn more about child custody modifications in the State of Texas, we urge you to speak to Matthew Horak of Horak Law.

Houston Child Custody Modification Lawyer | Harris County, TX

Contact Horak Law if you’re preparing to file or contest a child custody modification. Matthew Horak and his legal team have spent years representing their clients in all types of family law proceedings including child custody modification hearings. With Horak Law on your side, you can rest assured we will stop at nothing to obtain a favorable resolution for your case.

Call Horak Law today at (713) 225-8000 to schedule your first consultation about your child custody modification case. Horak Law has offices in The Woodlands and Houston, but we accept clients throughout the State including Fort Bend County, Brazoria County, Galveston County, Harris County, Waller County, Montgomery County, and Liberty County.

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Grounds for Child Custody Modification in Texas

Modification under the Texas Family Code Section 152.102(12) in context to child custody orders means a determination was made that changes, replaces, supersedes, or is otherwise made with a previous determination concerning the same child. It does not have to be made in the same court that determined the previous modification.

Either parent can seek modification based on the assertion there’s been a substantial or material change in circumstances that rendered the prior court order unfair or impracticable. Listed below are some examples of life events that could constitute a modification in a child custody court order.

  • Noncustodial parent makes substantially more
  • The child is 12 years old and wishes to file an affidavit stating their preference on where they’d like to live
  • Noncustodial parent has a medical crisis, loses their employment, or any other reason that could have a significant change in employment or financial status
  • Custodial parent moves out of Texas without giving notice
  • Visitation has become difficult for various reasons
  • Child has sudden medical needs or emergency that places an unfair burden of medical bills/cost/care on the custodial parent

Only certain people can file for a child custody modification in Texas. These include:

  • Current custodian
  • Individual with control, care or possession of the child for at least 6 months, and no more than 90 days from the date of the petition of modification
  • Individuals who lived with the child and their parent, guardian, or custodian for at least 6 months and no more than 90 days from the date of the petition of modification. In order for the individual to qualify, the custodian/guardian/parent must have died
  • A grandparent, aunt, sibling, uncle, niece, or nephew of the child and one of the following statements are true:
    • Child’s parents are deceased
    • The child’s parents, managing custodian, or surviving parent agreed; or
    • The living conditions of the child could lead to potential harm

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How Do I Modify a Court Order in Texas?

The modification process in regard to child custody is very similar to the initial child custody determination during divorce proceedings. Once the modification petition is filed, the custodian will be given 45 days to respond by either agreeing or contesting to the modification. All viable parties involved in the decision will sign a modification request form if the change goes uncontested. If the other parent doesn’t respond to the citation for modification or shows up in court by the 45th day, then the case will be absolved and turn uncontested by default.

In most cases, the custodian parent or other party will formally contest the petition for modification. If this occurs, the court will then schedule a hearing to determine if a modification is necessary or not. During this hearing, it’s highly recommended you have a child custody modification Houston lawyer on your side throughout every phase of the process. At the hearing, the court will hear both sides and determine a decision based on the “best interests of the child.”

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Texas Definition for Best Interests of the Child

When it comes to custody, the court considers their decisions based on the best interests of the child as that is their paramount concern. In most cases, the court will typically default to joint managing conservatorship as both parents should be included in the child’s upbringings as long as the child is older than the age of three. It’s also common for the court to typically consider the mother as the primary candidate for sole conservatorship if that is on the table.

The court takes into account various factors when determining the best interests of the child. These factors include, but are not limited to:

  • Whether the child has a preference for who they live with
  • Child’s immediate and future physical/emotional needs
  • If any immediate or future physical or emotional danger is present to the child
  • Abilities of each parent
  • What plans (education, health, living) the parent has for the child
  • If the home is stable or not
  • Actions or failure that may illustrate the parents don’t have a proper parent-child relationship
  • Excuses the parents have for actions and failures to act

Please note, the child’s preference on who they live with is not binding in court. There are many instances where a child does not have final say on which parent they live with or spend time with until they’ve reached the age of 18.

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Additional Resources

Child Custody | (NCSC) – Visit the official website for the Children’s Bureau, which provides more information about modification of child custody in Texas family courts.  Additionally, you can peruse resources and their helpful criteria for the determination of the child custody.

Child Custody Modification Forms – Visit the official website for the Texas State Library, which has resources for child custody modification application forms.  Access the site to see the child custody modifications forms which are split between two types: contested and non-contested.

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Houston Family Lawyer, TX | Child Custody Modifications & Agreements

If you’ve received a petition for modification or wish to send one, then it’s imperative you call Horak Law. It’s important you have legal representation ready before the final hearing and Matthew Horak of Horak Law can serve that role for you. With over ten years of experience, we can utilize all our resources, skills, and best efforts to ensure you receive a favorable result for your child custody modification case.

Call Horak Law today at (713) 225-8000 to set up your first consultation in either The Woodlands or Houston, TX.

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  • Texas Board of Legal Specialization | Criminal Law
  • National College for DUI Defense
  • National Association of Criminal Defense Laywers
  • Harris County Criminal Lawyers Association
  • Matt Horak has earned recognition for community leadership by Lawyer Legion