Parents often must work together to raise their children for several years after divorce. As the years go by, many parents realize that changes in circumstances may require a modification to their child custody arrangement. Generally, a parent who wishes to modify an existing child custody order must petition the court.
Child Custody Modification in Texas
Under Texas law, either parent may file a petition seeking child custody modification anytime. The petition must be filed in the court that granted the divorce, unless the child has moved. If this has happened, the case may be transferred to the court in the child’s new county. However, there are certain factors that must exist before a court will grant a change in present custody arrangements. Texas family law states that a court may modify a child custody order if the change is in the best interest of the child and one of the following applies:
- The circumstances of the child or parent have materially or substantially changed since the date of the original child custody order or order to be modified.
- The child is at least 12 years of age and will tell the court in private chambers with the judge that he/she would like a change.
- The custodial parent has voluntarily given the child’s care and custody to another person for at least 6 months.
After finding one of the three prerequisites, the court must still consider whether the change will be in the child’s best interest. Texas law states that the best interest of the child “shall always be the primary consideration” during child-custody disputes.
List of Relevant Factors
When examining the best interest of the child, Texas courts typically review a non-comprehensive list of relevant factors, otherwise known as the “Holley” factors. These factors include:
- The desires of the child
- The parental abilities of those seeking custody
- The emotional and physical needs of the child, now and in the future
- The emotional and physical danger to the child, now and in the future
- The programs available to those seeking custody that may assist in promoting the best interest of the child
- The stability of the child’s home
- The plans for the child by those seeking custody
- Any actions, or omissions, by a parent that may show the existing parent-child relationship is not appropriate
- Any excuses for such acts or omissions
There are many other issues that may come to light when a modification of child custody is requested. Requesting a modification of a child custody arrangement is complex and includes several different procedural steps.
A concerned parent should always seek the counsel of an experienced child custody attorney if they find themselves in such a dispute. A knowledgeable attorney can help explain all your options and assist in ensuring your rights are protected.
Ask For Help
If you are facing a change in your circumstances and need to modify your child custody orders, a Texas child custody attorney can help you protect your access to your child. Call C.E. Borman & Associates at 979-846-4090 to discuss your case.