Texas law presumes a joint custody arrangement, called a “joint managing conservatorship,” is in the child’s best interests. These custody orders carry the full weight of the family courts. They can lead to enforcement actions when either parent intentionally deviates from the written plan without the other parent’s consent.
Still, even though joint custody means that each parent has equal parental rights while raising the child, this need not mean that the child’s time is split equally among coparents, so the custody order dictates how much time you have with the children.
Perhaps your situation has changed, there may be a job offer in another city, or your schedules are different now that the child is older. Co-parents can go back to court when your custody order no longer works for the family.
Texas does allow custody modifications
To make an official change to your custody order in family court, you must file a Petition to Modify and request for a custody modification hearing. If your co-parent agrees with the proposed changes, you can undergo a relatively quick uncontested custody modification process. Changes can occur by default if the parent does not respond to the request.
If you disagree with the proposed changes to your parenting plan, you should file an answer or waiver of service and not sign the Order Modifying the Parent-Child Relationship.
To finish the contested custody modification suit, you must schedule a hearing. In addition to providing information to the courts ahead of time about the proposed changes and giving the co-parent at least 45-days-notice of the hearing. You both will have an opportunity to argue why making or not making certain modifications to your parenting plan would be in the best interest of your children. During preparation, attorneys can gather evidence and create a strategy that strengthens the parent’s case.
A judge or a jury considers the arguments, determining if the modification(s) requested better serves the child’s needs while also upholding the co-parents’ parental rights.
It’s best to be well-prepared
Learning more about the rules for custody modifications in Texas can help you feel confident in seeking more time with your child after your divorce. Still, it is often best to work with an experienced, Board-Certified Texas family law expert attorney to ensure that the proposed modification reflects the family’s needs if changes are needed.