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When Can Custody and Support Orders Be Modified in Texas?

It's a reality: life changes after divorce. And sometimes the divorce decree that was issued by the court becomes inappropriate for one or both spouses' new circumstances.

Depending on the facts of the case, it may be possible to modify your divorce agreement to match your current financial and family situation.

Sufficient evidence is required for the court to modify an existing child custody, child support or spousal support order.

One thing to understand about divorce decrees is that they are not etched in stone. However, when divorce decrees are made, they are presumed to be permanent. It takes legal knowledge and skill to successfully modify a divorce agreement, whether your concern is child custody, child support or spousal support.

If you believe a change in circumstances warrants a modification in any of these areas, then speak with an experienced family law attorney about your options.

Child Support and Spousal Support

Of all parts of a divorce agreement, child support is perhaps the most commonly modified. This is because child support is calculated largely based on the paying parent's income and ability to pay. If the paying parent's income increases or decreases significantly, then either parent can seek a modification of child support payments to match the current circumstances.

Again, there must be convincing proof of the change in circumstances for the court to approve a modification. For example, if one parent suffers a disabling injury that prevents him or her form working, or if the paying parent is promoted to a job that brings in significantly higher income, then proof of these changes may warrant a support modification.

Child Custody

Modifications of child custody agreements tend to be more complicated than support modifications. The Texas Family Code is very specific about the acceptable reasons for modifying a child custody order.

In general, it must be shown that a change in the parenting plan is in the best interests of the child, and that the circumstances of the child or either parent have "materially and substantially changed" since the child custody agreement was signed.

For example, proof of child abuse would be a valid reason for modifying a child custody order. Also, if the child is 12 years of age or older, the judge may take into consideration the child's preference for living arrangements when deciding whether to modify the existing arrangement.

Make it official. Work with a family lawyer to ensure your rights are protected.

For more on these matters, please see The Law Office of Mark Childress's family law overview.

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