If a couple decides to get a divorce, they may rely on the courts to establish their rights and obligations. Thus, in many cases, people are required to comply with a court’s order regarding spousal maintenance, child support, or child custody. Although Texas family courts aim to set forth orders dictating appropriate arrangements, circumstances can change, and a previously appropriate order may need to be modified. If a former spouse or co-parent wishes to seek a modification of a support or custody order, they should make sure to understand their rights. At Powell Law Offices, our Dallas Fort Worth family law attorneys can analyze the circumstances out of which the request for a modification arose and craft compelling arguments to help you pursue your desired outcome. We frequently represent people in modification cases in Dallas and Tarrant Counties.Child or Spousal Support Modifications
Child support obligations are determined according to statutory guidelines, which require a court to assess the gross income of each parent and the number of children whom the parent is obligated to support. Once the court issues a child support order, either party can request a modification due to a substantial and material change in circumstances. Typically, a change in either parent’s income, a change in housing or available insurance, or the birth of additional children may constitute a sufficient change in circumstances to warrant a modification. Similarly, a party seeking a modification of a spousal maintenance order must establish that a material and substantial change in circumstances warrants a modification.Modification of a Child Custody Order
There are numerous ways in which a Texas child custody order can be modified. If both parents agree to a modification, they can file a proposed order with the court. The court will review the proposed order to determine if it is in the child's best interest, and if it is, the court will generally grant the order. The order will then become legally enforceable.
In many cases, a child will express a desire to change the current custody arrangement, and a parent can seek a modification on the child’s behalf. The court will take the child’s wishes into consideration only if the child is at least 12, however. Even if a child wishes to live with one parent, the court will not modify a custody order unless it finds that a modification will be in the child’s best interest.
If a child is younger than 12 or does not express a preference, the party requesting a modification must establish that there has been a material and significant change in circumstances, similar to a party requesting a modification of a support order. In general, a change in either parent’s residence, employment, or marital status may constitute a substantial change in circumstances. As with all orders pertaining to a child, a court must weigh whether a requested modification is beneficial to the child. In assessing what is in a child's best interest, the court will look at factors such as the child's needs, each parent's ability to care for the child, and the stability that each parent can provide.When to File a Petition for a Modification of a Custody Order
The Texas Family Code aims to deter parents from seeking frequent custody modifications. Specifically, if a parent seeks a modification within one year of the issuance of a prior custody order, the parent must provide the court with a signed affidavit stating that the primary custodial parent either consents to the requested modification or voluntarily relinquished care of the child for six or more months, or that the child’s present living situation presents a risk of emotional or physical harm. If the court finds that the affidavit sets forth sufficient facts, it will schedule a hearing for the petition. If the affidavit is not sufficient, the court will deny the petition.Meet with a Knowledgeable Dallas Fort Worth Attorney Regarding Your Case
It is wise for anyone who wishes to petition for or contest a modification of a family law order to meet with a knowledgeable attorney to discuss the effects of any modification. The experienced family law attorneys at Powell Law Offices are adept at navigating the Texas family courts and will assertively seek a successful outcome in your case. Our offices are located in Grapevine and McKinney, and we represent people in Dallas Fort Worth and elsewhere in Dallas and Tarrant Counties. You can reach us at (972) 584-9382 or via our online form to schedule a free and confidential consultation.