Modification of Custody, Visitation and Support

Modification of Child Custody - Family Law Attorney Sonya B. CoffmanAfter a divorce decree is final, conservatorship (custody), primary possession and visitation rights can be modified if the circumstances of the child or one or both of the parents materially and substantially change and a modification would be a positive improvement of the child’s circumstances. Modification also is warranted if the current orders have become unworkable or inappropriate.

Custody and visitation orders may be modified only in the “best interest” of the children. Factors considered by a court in determining whether to modify custody and visitation orders include (i) a negative change in the lifestyle of a parent, (ii) inaccessibility of a parent, such as imprisonment or an extended stay at a drug or alcohol rehabilitation facility, (iii) a person twelve (12) years of age or older exercising his or her right to express a preference regarding which parent to live with, (iv) a lack of stability in the home of one of the parents, or (v) a parent’s consistent inability to act in the “best interest” of the children.

Temporary orders are available in a custody modification. However, to change the primary residence of a child on temporary orders, the parent requesting the change must show that (i) the child’s present circumstances would substantially impair the child’s physical health or emotional development, (ii) the child expressed a preference to the court concerning which parent should determine the primary residence, or (iii) the other parent voluntarily relinquished care and control of the child for a period of six (6) months or more.

Similar determinations are made by the court when enforcing or modifying interstate custody and visitation orders entered by courts in states other than Texas under the Uniform Child Custody Jurisdiction and Enforcement Act, which Texas has adopted.

Child support orders may be modified at any time by demonstrating a significant change in the circumstances of a child or a parent affected by an order. Reasons for modifying a child support order include (i) a substantial change in the income of one of the parents, (ii) relocation of one of the parents, (iii) a child’s decision to live with the other parent, or (iv) an increase in a child’s needs.

It is important that custody, visitation and support orders be reviewed on a regular basis in light of possible changes in the parents’ circumstances. If you think the modification of an existing custody, visitation or child support order may be warranted, call Sonya Coffman. Because . . . family matters.