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Does your custody order need a second look?

Since your divorce was finalized, you may have had many moments when you grew frustrated with your ex, especially concerning child custody arrangements. Perhaps your former spouse has disappointed the children on more than one occasion, or you don't want the children around his or her new romantic partner. Maybe the children are growing older, and their new schedules and interests make it difficult to maintain the court-ordered custody arrangement.

Whatever your reasons, you may be considering requesting a modification to your custody order. The most important things to remember about such an undertaking are that courts are reluctant to make modifications without serious reasons, but that changing the agreement without court approval gives you no legal standing.

Common reasons for requesting a modification

Convincing a judge to approve a custody modification request often means providing documentation and other evidence that the change will be in the best interests of the children. This is the primary focus of Texas family courts, so attempting to make the change for your own convenience or to fit your preferences may not be successful. This is especially true when the modification you seek involves relocating. A judge will carefully examine the following factors:

  • Why you want to relocate
  • If your relocation will allow the other parent to continue visitation with the children without excessive burden
  • Whether you and your former spouse have discussed the move and worked out a plan for visitation
  • The extent of disruption to the child's life, including separation from friends and extended family, sporting teams, clubs and activities
  • The impact on the child from changing schools or churches

Other reasons to request legal changes in your custody agreement may include that your co-parent is not abiding by the court-ordered schedule for visitation. He or she may ignore pickup or drop off times, take the children to places of which you do not approve or keep them overnight without permission. Of course, you don't want to go to court if your ex is occasionally a few minutes late, but a pattern of contempt may affect the children.

Naturally, if your child is in danger, a modification may be critical. This could occur if the other parent is abusing drugs or alcohol, suffers from physical or mental illness, is abusive or is associating with someone who is abusive. The safety of the children is the most common reason for seeking modifications of court-ordered custody, and a legal professional can work to get your case before a judge as quickly as possible.

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