How Do You Change Court Orders for Child Support & Custody?

What is a Court of Continuing Jurisdiction?

Once a Texas court assumes jurisdiction over a child, that court retains the right to make any future decision about the child until another court acquires the right to make such decisions. Once the child has lived in a different Texas county for at least six months, the right to make decisions about the child can, and should, be transferred to the court serving that county. However, this transfer must be requested.

If the current court order was created by the court of another state, Texas will grant full faith and credit to that court order. This means that a Texas court will acknowledge and respect that order, and only change the order if specific conditions are met. Unless emergency conditions exist that require immediate action for the safety and welfare of the child, a Texas court will not change the orders of another state until it is established that Texas is now the "Home State" of the child and the original court no longer claims continuing jurisdiction.

What Grounds Are Needed to Modify a Custody & Visitation Order?

Any person who is affected by the order can ask the court to modify or enforce the order. Before the court can grant a modification, it must find:

1. that the modification is in the best interest of the child;

2. that the circumstances of the child, a conservator or a party affected by the order have materially and substantially changed since the order was signed by the court.

3. that a child over 12 years of age has filed with the court a written preference for a different primary managing conservator.

4. that the primary managing conservator has voluntarily given up care and possession of the child to another person for at least 6 months.

If the change is requested within 12 months of the original order, you must also show one of the following:

1. The child's present environment may endanger the child's physical health or significantly impair the child's emotional development;

2. The person entitled to establish the child's primary residence is consenting to or bringing the motion for the best interest of the child;

3. The person entitled to establish the child's primary residence has voluntarily given care and possession to another person for at least 6 months and a change would be in the child's best interest.

What Grounds Are Needed to Modify Court Orders for Child Support, including Medical Support?

You can request that the Texas Attorney General assist you in modifying child support, free of charge. More information is available here.

The court can change or modify the current child support order if the circumstances of the child or a person affected by the order have materially and substantially changed. The order can also be changed if it has been in effect for over three years and applying the child support guidelines would increase or decrease the support obligation by $100 or 20%.

What is a Material and Substantial Change?

Courts have identified several events that amount to a material and substantial change. Marriage to another person can be a material and substantial change. A change in residence, age, medical condition, employment, criminal history or the relationship between the parents making the current orders unworkable can be found by the court to be a material and substantial change.

The Modification Process

The process to modify a current court order affecting custody, visitation or child support begins with a petition to the court asking for the modification. Once the petition is filed and served, the court can enter temporary orders if properly requested. If the modification is agreed to by the other party, the process can be completed relatively easily. But if the other party wants to contest the modification then the court will have to schedule a contested hearing.

Contact Adam L. Seidel, P.C.: Serving Clients in North Texas

To learn more about modifications, you may email us or call us today at214-528-3344 (Dallas)             or 972-312-1212 (Plano).