Sometimes child custody, child support and spousal support orders have to be modified to reflect the reality of the situation. Modifying an order may not be easy, however, especially if there is conflict between the parties involved. Parents and former spouses often need creative and aggressive assistance from a family law attorney to achieve a favorable outcome. With these issues in mind, let's consider a few scenarios in which a modification may or may not be permissible.
Generally, each of a child's co-parents has a right to see and care for the child, either through a shared custody arrangement or visitation time. In extreme cases involving things like neglect, domestic violence or substance abuse, the court may deny one parent his or her parental rights. However, a custodial parent may not simply move away with the child and effectively deny the non-custodial parent's visitation time.
In some cases, the court is willing to approve a modification of child custody to allow one parent to relocate with the child. The non-custodial parent may contest the move, however. The court's decision will ultimately be based on the child's best interests, and in most cases, those interests are best protected by having both parents nearby, though there are exceptions.
Another reason to modify a court order is if the financial situation of one or both parents has changed. Say the custodial parent lost his or her job, or the non-custodial parent received a raise. Either parent can petition the court to modify the child support order to reflect the change in circumstances. Again, though, sufficient evidence is necessary for a modification.
Likewise, a spousal support or child support order may be modified if a custodial parent remarries or moves in with a new spouse or partner.
You can learn more about the full range of modification possibilities at our Texas family law website.