Order Modification in Texas?
Court orders are not set in stone in Texas. Life’s circumstances change over time, and court orders for support, custody, and visitation can be modified to reflect these changes. However, the modifications must happen through a court process, and a judge will only approve necessary changes.
If you need to change a court order in Tarrant County, you should immediately reach out to a knowledgeable family law attorney.
Order Modification in Texas
Modifying Child Custody and Visitation in Texas
If both parties agree to the child custody or visitation modification, the process can be relatively smooth. The parties will submit their proposed order reflecting the changes to the court for approval. If the parties are in agreement, the court will most likely approve the requested modification.
If the modification is contested, the court will only grant a modification under the following three circumstances:
• The child is at least 12 years old and wishes to change the primary caregiver;
• The custodial parent has voluntarily given up primary care and possession of the child for at least six months; or
• There has been a material and substantial change in the circumstances, and the modification would serve the child’s best interests.
Material and substantial changes typically include:
• Changes in the marital status of the parents,
• Job relocations,
• medical conditions,
• Abuse or neglect of the child by either parent, and
• Substance abuse.
The main priority for the court will always be the best interests of the child.
In many cases, if you and the other parent agree, you can temporarily deviate from the schedule without order modification. For example, you are away on a work trip, and the children stay with their father for an additional day. However, if you expect the change to be long-lasting, you should seek a modification to the order.
If you believe that your child is in immediate danger, you should call the police and then contact your attorney. You may need a protective order to ensure the immediate safety of the child.
Modifying Child Support in Texas
Informal agreements between parents do not change the court-ordered amount of child support. The court order must be modified through a legal process. In Tarrant County, you can only request a modification of child support under the following circumstances:
• The order was established or last modified more than three years ago, and the monthly amount of the child support differs by either 20% or $100 from the amount that would be awarded, according to the child support guidelines, or
• There was a material and substantial change in the circumstances since the last child support order.
The court will consider the following changes to be material and substantial:
• The noncustodial parent’s income decreased or increased;
• The noncustodial parent is legally responsible for additional children;
• The child’s medical insurance coverage has changed; or
• The child custody arrangement changed, and the child is now living with a different parent.
The child support order can be changed through an in-person negotiation called a Child Support Review Process. If both parents agree to the modification, it will be sent to the court for approval. However, if the parents disagree about the child support modification, it will be resolved through a court hearing.
Importantly, modifications to a court order for child support are not retroactive. This means that the court can only change future payments, not past ones. It is never a good idea to stop making payments without court approval, even if you lost your job. Not only will you be responsible for all missed payments, but also unpaid child support accumulates interest at six percent. If you are no longer able to make child support payments, your first step should be to reach out to a family law attorney.
Modifying Spousal Support in Texas
Sometimes after a divorce, the court will order one party to pay spousal support (alimony) to ensure that the parties can pay for basic needs after a divorce. If there has been a material and substantial change in your circumstances, you can ask the court to modify the spousal support order. Examples of material and substantial changes include a reduction of income and an increase in medical expenses.
Spousal support ends automatically in Texas if the spouse marries or co-habitats with another person in a dating relationship.
The Law Office Of Craig S. Michalk provides experienced legal counsel in all areas of family law; including divorce, child custody, child support, paternity, adoptions, modifications, enforcements, and name changes.
Your initial consultation is free, so call us today to schedule an appointment at our Bedford, Texas office. We look forward to the opportunity to discuss and assist you with your family law legal matter.
Frank Lloyd Wright