Is it possible to modify my child custody order in Texas and what do I need to prove?

How Can I Modify My Current Child Custody Order in Texas?

            The first step to getting a custody modification that we will always recommend is to call an attorney who will help you navigate the court system and family law in Texas. At the Law Offices of Jayson Nag, our experienced family law attorneys will work tirelessly to help you achieve the modification you desire. Every client would benefit, however, from having an idea of the basics to a custody modification. There are two terms the client should know and understand before moving to the next step in getting a modification─”conservatorship” and “possession and access.”

What is the difference between conservatorship and possession and access?

            Custody can mean several different things to different people. It is important to know what exactly you want to change in regards to custody─conservatorship of the child or just possession and access. Conservatorship deals with the rights and duties of the parents. Parents can either be joint managing conservators or one will be the sole managing conservator of the child and the other the possessory conservator. Texas most often appoints parents as joint managing conservators subject to different sets of rights and duties, and only one parent will generally have the exclusive right to determine the primary residence of the child. A parent that wants their child to live primarily with a different parent than they currently are will seek a modification to conservatorship. Learn more about conservatorship generally HERE.

Possession and access, on the other hand, outlines a schedule for when each parent will have the child, such as during the week, weekends, holidays, and school breaks. A parent that simply wants to make a change to their possession schedule will seek a modification to possession and access.

That being said, the second step in attaining a modification is filing an Original Petition to Modify the Parent-Child Relationship.

When can I file for a modification?

            A petition to modify just possession and access may be requested at any time by either parent. A change of conservatorship and the right to designate the primary residence of the child, however, typically requires that the current conservatorship order be at least one year old.  This hurdle can be overcome if the child’s mental or emotional health is at risk due to their present environment, the conservator with the right to designate the primary residence of the child voluntarily relinquishes primary care and possession for six months or longer, or if the conservator with the right to designate the primary residence of the child agrees to the modification.

            Even if time requirements are met, there must be sufficient grounds for a modification for a judge to grant the modification.

What are sufficient grounds for a modification?

To achieve a modification, whether it be for conservatorship or possession and access, one of three requirements must be met. A material and substantial change in circumstances for the child or a conservator of the child that occurred after the most current order will serve as sufficient grounds for a custody modification. Proving a material and substantial change can be very difficult though, especially without an attorney.

Courts typically do not like to involve children in their parents’ legal issues. However, if a child, who is at least 12 years of age or older, tells the judge which parent he or she would like to live with, this will also give the judge the ability to order a modification.

Lastly, if a parent that currently has the right to designate the primary residence of the child voluntarily relinquishes the primary care and possession of the child for at least six months, a court can order a modification.

Of course, even if all three of these grounds exist, the court may still refuse to modify the conservatorship or possession and access order if it determines that a modification is not in the best interest of the child. This is the most important thing to note, as the best interest of the child will always prevail in the courtroom.

What should I do if I want to seek a custody modification?

            Call the Law Offices of Jayson Nag at 817.900.2823. Once a court has ordered conservatorship or a possession and access schedule, it is an uphill battle to modify that order. An attorney will be essential to giving you the best chance to change it. Our attorneys are experienced family law attorneys, and they will strive to get you the modification you need. Get a head start on your changing your custody order now by filling out a family law intake HERE.