Child custody arrangements are ordered and enforced by the court. This secures the rights of both parents and ensures that the best interests of the children. But circumstances change, and children grow up. A custody arrangement that is appropriate when a child is a toddler or an infant may not be equally appropriate to a child who is older. Additionally, a parent may take on a second job or see a change to their own schedule that requires a visitation schedule to be amended. What happens then?
Typically, the parent requesting the modification of child custody in Texas will petition the court. Even when both parents agree on the decision, it’s best to get the courts involved so that the order is enforceable. If there is no order, there is nothing to enforce. The Houston TX child custody attorneys at The Alsandor Law Firm can help advocate for your interests when it comes time to modify an existing child custody arrangement.
Material Change in the Circumstances Relative to the Child or Conservator
In order to successfully petition the court for a modification of an existing custody order, the parent who is doing the petitioning must show that there has been a major change in the “material conditions” related to either the conservator or the child. In cases where a child is simply getting older, that can be considered a change to the material conditions of the child. Other material changes can include:
- A parent is getting remarried;
- The child is being mistreated by someone in the home;
- There is a change in the child’s home or the child has relocated; or
- One parent becomes unsuited to exercise custody over the child.
The above list contains major changes to the child’s environment or environments that are dangerous for the child. What it does not contain are mundane circumstances that may nonetheless qualify as material changes. In cases where enough time has passed, the court may elect to review a conservatorship relationship anyway. This is particularly true when the child was an infant when the conservatorship was granted and is now over three years old. Likewise, simply being in a different age group is a consideration the court must seriously consider, among others.
What Are the Best Interests of the Child?
In every question related to custody, the court will consider the best interests of the child to be the paramount concern. The court typically defaults on the grounds that joint managing conservatorship is in the best interests of the child so long as the child is older than three years old. Otherwise, the court will typically consider the mother the primary candidate for sole conservatorship.
But this begs the question: What does the court take into account when determining the best interests of the child?
- The child’s own wishes. So long as the child is capable of rendering a sound decision, what they want can be considered by the court. However, what the child wants and what is in the best interests of the child are not the same.
- The schedules and abilities of the parents. If one parent is emotionally, psychologically, or even physically incapable of taking care of the child, that must be considered by the court. Otherwise, the parents’ schedules must be taken into consideration.
- Who can better care for the emotional, physical, and financial needs of the child? A parent who is requesting a modification to an existing custody order must either show that they can take care of the child or they must show that the other parent cannot take care of the child.
The burden of proof will be on the parent who is requesting a modification to show that (if do not have conservatorship now) that they should be granted conservatorship because that is in the best interests of the child. If one parent wants to revoke joint managing conservatorship from a parent they deem unfit, then they will need to prove why that parent is unfit.
Learn More About Modification of Child Custody in Texas
Parents requesting the modification of child custody in Texas will need an attorney who can get the evidence they need to make their case before the judge. The Alsandor Law Firm has successfully represented parents who were determined to become a part of their child’s lives and those who believed that a managing conservator was putting their children in danger. Contact us today to learn more about how we can help.