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How difficult is it to modify a child custody order?

If you and your spouse obtained a Texas divorce that included a custody and parenting time order, either or both of you can modify this order at any point in the future that a material and substantial change in circumstances occurs. As FindLaw explains, if your children were young at the time of your divorce, it is not unlikely that your original order may have to be modified several times as they grow up and their needs change.

How difficult you find it to modify your custody order depends on whether or not you and your ex-spouse agree to the changes. If you do, you can change them by mutual agreement without any court intervention. Be aware, however, that neither of you can enforce this informal private agreement, even if it is in writing, should a dispute arise later. You can only enforce court-ordered custody orders and modifications thereto.

Agreed versus contested modifications

If you and your ex-spouse agree to a modification, the proper procedure is to have one of your attorneys draft an Order Modifying Prior Order in Suit Affecting the Parent-Child Relationship, sign it, and submit it to the judge for approval.

If you cannot agree, you will need to go to court for a custody hearing at which you must prove one of the following:

  • That the circumstances of you, your ex-spouse or your children have changed substantially and materially since the last court order
  • That the existing court order has become inappropriate or unworkable under existing circumstances
  • That your ex-spouse moved without giving you the required 60 days’ notice

In addition, you must prove that your requested modification is in the best interests of your children. While this information is not legal advice, it can help you understand the modification process and what to expect.

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