Your divorce is final and the child custody order has been put in place. Unfortunately, a little while down the road you realize the child custody agreement is not working for you or for your child. You wish to make a modification to the current child custody agreement, but you are not sure where to start or what options are available to you. If this situation sounds like the situation you or someone you love is in, the attorneys are ready to help you. With decades of experience, vast amounts of knowledge, familiarity with the Collin County Courts, and being invested in the community of Frisco they are ready to advise you and assist you with achieving your goals.
Child custody orders are designed with the best interest of the child in mind followed by the interest of the parents. After a child custody order has been put in place, situations may change and the current child custody order is no longer what is best for the child or parents. If that is the case a child custody modification may be in order. If the changes are needed a year or more after the child custody order has been put in place adjustments can be made with minimal fuss. However, if the modification needs to happen within a year of the original order being implemented the modifications have to meet certain criteria.
First, it is important to determine what date the current child custody order became effective in order to determine when the first year period is up. There are two basic ways to obtain a child custody order. You may have obtained your order from a judge via a hearing or a trial or you may have obtained the order through settlement based on an agreement of the parties which is often reached at mediation or a similar process. If the current custody order is based on a judge’s decision you will use the date the judge made the decision, which could be different than the date the judge signed the order. If the current custody order was reached during settlement discussions, you will use the date the settlement agreement was signed by the parties. This date may also be different than the date the judge signed the order. Once you have determined that you are still within the first year period of the current child custody order you will need to determine if you are eligible to request the modification or if you will need to wait until after the first year period has expired.
To change a custody agreement within the first year of implementation you will need a valid reason. There are three situations that the court deems as acceptable valid reasons to modify a custody agreement within the first year the custody agreement was put into place. According to section 156.102 of the Texas Family Code, the three valid reasons are:
- that the child’s present environment may endanger the child’s physical health or significantly impair the child’s emotional development;
- that the person who has the exclusive right to designate the primary residence of the child is the person seeking OR consenting to the modification and the modification is in the best interest of the child; or
- that the person who has the exclusive right to designate the primary residence of the child has voluntarily relinquished the primary care and possession of the child for at least six months and the modification is in the best interest of the child.
One exception to the third valid reason is military deployment or duty. If the parent with primary custody has temporarily relinquished the primary care and possession of the child to another person because of their military service the exclusive right to designate the primary residence of the child will not be taken away from them unless one of the other valid reasons also applies.
If one of the situations mentioned above applies to you and you would like to seek a modification of your child support order the attorneys are here for you. An affidavit will need to be filed with the court and you will need to be able to present facts that prove that your situation is in line with the valid reasons mentioned in the Texas Family Code. Once the court has the affidavit, if they determine that the facts presented are adequate they can schedule a modification hearing. As always the court will keep the best interest of the child at the forefront of their mind when making their decision. It will be important that you can show that the modifications you are seeking are best for the child who is the subject of the child custody order.
While it is easier to modify a child custody agreement after it has been in place for at least a year, it is not impossible to modify the agreement within the first year.