When Can You Modify Child Custody in Texas?
Texas law specifies when a parent can seek to modify an existing child custody order. Parents can only request modifications to child custody arrangements under specific conditions to avoid bogging down the court system. Child custody arrangements can only be modified if doing so is in the best interests of the child and the parent can show one of the following:
- The circumstances of the child or parent have “materially and substantially” changed since the original custody agreement was reached.
- A child at least 12 years old wishes to express their preference in court, requiring a change to an existing custody arrangement.
- The custodial parent wants to voluntarily relinquish custody and care of the child, modifying the best interests of the child.
“Material and substantial” changes in circumstances sound vague at best. However, the language covers many situations that may impact a parent or child, requiring changes to a child custody arrangement. Job loss, moving to a new area, and physical or mental health concerns are life-changing events that may impact you and your child, necessitating changes to an existing child custody order.
Who Can File a Modification Case?
Either parent can seek to modify an existing child custody order if they can demonstrate the modification is necessary to protect the child’s best interests. Grandparents may also have legal rights, but grandparents can only seek to modify a child custody agreement if both parents or the child’s legal guardians are deceased. The Texas Attorney General Child Support Division can also file a modification case under specific circumstances.
What Is the Difference Between a Contested and Uncontested Case?
The element that makes the difference between a contested and uncontested child custody case may be the relationship between you and your co-parent. An uncontested case means you and your child’s other parent can agree on the modified terms of the new custody arrangement. With communication and cooperation, some parents can avoid complications and arrive at a mutually beneficial arrangement. In an uncontested case, both parents arrive at a compromise and are willing to sign modification suit forms. Alternatively, an uncontested custody modification can arise via default when one parent is served and does not file an answer or appear in court to contest the terms of the modification.
A contested case is one in which one parent seeks a child custody modification, and the other parent files an answer and refuses to sign the Order Modifying the Parent-Child Relationship. A parent might refuse to accept the terms laid out by the other parent because they feel the new arrangement is unfair or does not benefit the child’s best interests. Contested cases can take longer to resolve and often require court intervention since the parents disagree on the conditions of the modified custody arrangement.
How Long Does Modification in Texas Take?
The length of time it can take to modify a Dallas, Texas, child custody agreement depends on the circumstances of the case. Typically, it takes less time to complete an uncontested modification than it does a contested case, which requires mediation or the intervention of the courts. In some situations, it can take months for your case to get on the docket, drawing out how long it takes to resolve your modification case.
If you are concerned about the welfare of your child or your circumstances are time-sensitive, consult with an experienced Dallas child custody attorney immediately. An attorney can review your unique situation, advise you on how long it will take for your child custody modification request to work through the Texas legal system, and suggest alternative paths to resolution.
How Much Does a Child Custody Modification Cost?
The cost of a child custody modification case varies depending on the circumstances of your case. And while you may worry about the financial costs of modifying an existing child custody order in Texas, know that affordable help is at hand. The team at Balekian Hayes, PLLC, can find solutions that work with a range of budgets. We do not want the cost of our services to be a barrier to caring for your family.
Our legal team cares about your child’s best interests, and we want to help you find a way to protect your family. The sooner you reach out to an experienced attorney for help with your modification case, the sooner you have a plan of action toward achieving the most favorable outcome possible for the circumstances of your case.
Contact an Experienced Child Custody Modification Attorney in Dallas for Help
Modifying the terms of a child custody agreement requires effective and responsive legal assistance. Your child’s health, safety, and well-being may be at stake. Those are not things you want to leave to chance. Protect your rights and your child by enlisting the help of a knowledgeable child custody attorney with Balekian Hayes, PLLC.
We can help you navigate these challenging times effectively and create a child custody plan that addresses your family’s new needs and goals. Contact our Dallas office today to arrange a confidential legal consultation and learn more about how we may be able to help you modify your original custody agreement.