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Modifying a child custody or support order

Texas parents who have gone through a divorce may be interested in some information on the process for changing an existing child custody or support order. Depending on the reason for the change and the agreement of the parties, the circumstances of the modification may be different.

A custody order is an order from a judge that dictates parenting time, visitation rights and other child custody issues when parents divorce. When a family's circumstances change after a divorce, however, it may be necessary to modify that existing order. These modifications may be necessary for both the custodial and non-custodial parent. For instance, a layoff of the noncustodial parent may mean that he or she can no longer afford the original child support amount. If the children are now in school, an original custody arrangement providing for them to live with each parent on alternating weeks may no longer be viable.

When both parents agree with the modification, the process is relatively simple compared to a contested modification. In any case, a petition must be submitted to the clerk's office at the site where the original order was granted. A contested modification requires the parent or their legal representative to convince the judge that there has been a material change in circumstances and that the change is in the best interests of the child. If the original order was issued less than a year before the request, the change may be accepted in certain emergency situations.

Going through the process of modifying a child custody or support order can be difficult, particularly when the parties do not agree. An attorney who has experience in family law matters may be helpful in preparing the petition for modification and representing a parent at the court hearing.

Source:, "How do I change custody and child support orders? ", December 23, 2014

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