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What constitutes a material and substantial change which would justify a change to child custody?

Child custody is often one of the most critical issues in a divorce. At times, after the issuance of the divorce decree and institution of the custody order, one or both of the parents might find a need to alter the custody agreement. Texas law allows custody agreements to be amended as needed under certain circumstances. Parents who find the custody arrangement to no longer be workable will want to consult with a Texas child custody lawyer for a better understanding of the steps required to seek a formal change in custody.

Requirements for Modifying a Child Custody Order in Texas

Per Texas law, either parent can file a petition seeking a change of custody at any time. The petition should be filed in the county in which the divorce was granted, unless the parties have moved. If both parents agree to the custody change, the process will be simple and quick. The court will review the agreed to change of custody and generally will approve it. Once approval is granted, the new custody order will take effect and be fully enforceable.

It is when the parents do not agree that a change of custody request can be complicated and potentially acrimonious. Both of the parents will need to go before the judge when a change of custody request is entered which does not reflect the wishes of both parties. The parent seeking to modify custody will need to prove that either the child is over the age of 12 and wishes to change primary caregiver, or there has been a change of circumstances that is material and substantial, and the changes would be in the best interests of the child.

A change of circumstances could include a job relocation, remarriage of a parent, unemployment, abuse or neglect by a parent, substance abuse, or medical conditions. In determining the best interests of the child, the court will consider the child’s health, mental well-being, safety, and more. For older children, the court will additionally consider the child’s wishes.

Changing your child custody arrangement or contesting the other parent’s proposed change can be stressful and potentially complex. Consult with a child custody lawyer for assistance with your custody matter today.