During the divorce process, parents must negotiate a custody agreement, or conservatorship. However, agreements and court orders are not set in stone. Parents have the option to petition the court to modify a child custody order, but there are certain conditions and processes to understand before moving forward with a modification.
The conditions to modify custody
You cannot simply petition to modify a child custody order whenever you wish. There must have been some sort of change in your family's situation. The state of Texas generally recognizes three conditions for modification that include:
- Significant changes in the financial or material circumstances of the parents or children
- The custodial parent volunteers to modify the original custody agreement
- A child of 12 years or older wishes to live with the non-custodial parent
It is important to note that even if your situation matches one of these three conditions, there is no guarantee that the courts will modify the original custody order. There are still other factors that affect the final decision, including the custodial parent's opinion and the child's best interest.
The difference between a contested or uncontested modification
If the custodial parent, more often called the conservator, agrees with the modification, then the process is fairly easy. It mostly involves filing paperwork and negotiating a new agreement.
However, if the appointed conservator disagrees and contests the petition, you will most likely have to go to court. The hearing process can be long, but the assistance of an experienced family law attorney could help make it easier.
The final decision is always in the child's best interest
Just like with the original custody order, the child's best interest is still the most important factor of the decision. Regardless of your circumstances, or whether the conservator contests the modification or not, Texas courts will always decide in favor of what is best for your child.