Can I Change My Child Custody Order?

Posted on February 3, 2020 by Chris Kirker

Child custody is set by a court order at the time of divorce or at the resolution of an original Suit Affecting the Parent-Child Relationship (“SAPCR”). However, this order is not permanent and, as time goes on, the needs of the family may warrant changes to the original order. The process to change a child custody order is referred to as “modification” and can be initiated by either parent. If both parents agree to the modification, then it can be a pretty quick and painless process, provided the court agrees that the changes are in the best interest of the child. However, if one party disagrees with the proposed changes, then the process can be more complicated.

The primary concern in child custody is always the best interest of the child, so the party filing for a modification of the prior order must prove that the change they are requesting is in the child’s best interest. They must also show: 

  1. The circumstances have materially and substantially changed since the prior order; 
  2. The child is at least twelve years-old and has expressed to the court in chambers the name of the parent who the child prefers to have the exclusive right to designate the primary residence of the child; or 
  3. The conservator who has the exclusive right to designate the primary residence of the child has voluntarily relinquished the primary care and possession of the child to another person for at least six months. 

A material and substantial change could include changes in a parent’s marital status, job relocations, unemployment, abuse, or neglect. Judges exercise great care when it comes to modifying child custody orders. The court will examine the totality of the facts and circumstances involved in the case in determining whether a change is in the best interest of the child.

If you are considering modification of a child custody order and want help navigating the process, contact Kirker│Davis LLP to speak with an attorney today.

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