Petition for Modification Must Be Filed in the Court That Determined Child Custody
If you want to file a petition to modify your current child custody arrangement, the first thing you need to know is you will typically need to file your petition with the court that originally ordered conservatorships or approved your parenting plan. The statute specifically states the “court with continuing, exclusive jurisdiction may modify an order that provides for the conservatorship, support, or possession of and access to a child.”
If the child has moved to a new place with one or both parents, you may be able to file a petition in a different location. A Texas child custody lawyer can speak with you on how to move forward.
Valid Reasons for Seeking a Modification of Your Child Custody Arrangement
The Texas Family Code expressly states valid grounds for modifying an existing child custody arrangement, which must include one of the following:
- Circumstances of the child, one of the conservators, or another party affected by the conservatorship order or agreed parenting plan have materially and substantially changed since the original order or plan;
- Child is at least 12 years old and has expressed a preference to the court to have one of the party’s homes designated as the child’s primary residence; or
- Conservator with the exclusive right to designate the child’s primary residence has voluntarily relinquished primary care and possession of the child for at least six months prior to the petition for a modification.
While the latter two reasons to modify a child custody arrangement are relatively straightforward, it can be more difficult to determine what a material and substantial change in circumstances might look like. Examples might include but are not limited to the following:
- One of the conservators relocates for job purposes;
- One of the conservators loses his/her job;
- One of the conservators develops a serious medical condition;
- One of the conservators gets remarried; or
- Allegations of abuse by one of the conservators.
For a court to modify the existing child custody arrangement, the modification must be in the best interests of the child. It is also important to note the Texas Family Code allows courts to penalize parents who frivolously seek a modification for purposes of harassing the other parent.
Contact a Child Custody Lawyer in Dallas, Texas
If you need assistance petitioning for a modification of your child custody arrangement, a Texas child custody lawyer can assist you. Contact Orsinger, Nelson, Downing and Anderson, LLP for more information.