How to Modify an Existing Child Custody Agreement in Tyler
There are many reasons you and your former spouse may want to modify your existing child custody agreement. Whether the desire to change an existing child custody agreement is the result of a new work opportunity and subsequent move or because of one parent’s increased drug and alcohol usage, Texas parents need to understand how they can go about this, what the process involves, and how a child custody lawyer in Tyler, TX can help.
Common Reasons to Request a Modification to Your Child Custody Agreement
We already mentioned moving due to a new job opportunity and increased drug or alcohol usage as common reasons for child custody modifications; however, there are a few other possible reasons you should know about.
A Texas judge will accept your request to modify your existing child custody agreement if either parent develops a medical condition that would render them incapable of adhering to the current agreement, or if there are any new cases of child abuse and/or neglect. A judge may also agree to accept the request for modification if the other parent is not adhering to their existing schedule and responsibilities, or any other change in circumstances, such as one parent’s new marriage or loss of income.
However, regardless of the reason you or your former spouse are requesting the modification, the judge will only agree to modify an existing agreement if the change is in the child’s best interests. The court usually considers different factors. These can include the child’s relationship with each parent and each parent’s mental and physical fitness, to decide what is in the child’s best interest. They also may include each parent’s work schedule and the child’s preference for who they want to live with.
How to Request Child Custody Modification
Divorced parents in Texas can request a child custody modification by filing a petition in the same court where their divorce was granted. The only exception to this is if the child has moved to a new location. In this scenario, the parent will have to transfer their case to their current county court.
If both parents agree to the modification, the process is relatively seamless. Once both parties approve of the new agreement, they will submit their proposed agreement to the court for approval. Once the court approves it, the new agreement overrides the old one and becomes legally enforceable.
What Happens if the Parents Don’t Agree?
Say neither party agrees to the request for modification. Both of them will have to go before a judge to obtain the child custody modification. In Texas, parents wishing to modify their existing child custody agreement must prove that:
- There has been a significant change in either parent’s life that would make adhering to the existing custody agreement impossible
- The new agreement would benefit the child’s best interests (based on the factors mentioned above)
Furthermore, a Texas court could accept a modification request if the child is at least 12 years old and wishes to change their primary caregiver. If the child is under 12 years old or doesn’t want to change their primary caregiver, the judge will only grant the petition to modify child custody if:
- There are signs of abuse or neglect
- There are signs of substance abuse
- There’s a change in marital status or employment status
- One parent has to relocate due to an employment opportunity
How Can a Child Custody Lawyer in Tyler, TX Help Me Change My Child Custody Agreement?
Child custody remains one of the most contentious parts of the divorce process. Unless you and your former spouse agree to modify your existing child custody agreement, you’ll more than likely run into issues. This is especially true if there is a history of substance abuse or neglect. An experienced child custody lawyer can make sure your rights are protected. Furthermore, if your situation has changed and you feel like a child custody modification best suits your needs, talk it over with an experienced family law attorney. They can make you aware of your options so you feel more comfortable with what to expect.
Contact an Experienced Child Custody Modification Lawyer in Tyler, TX for a Consultation
Do you need to modify your existing child custody agreement or want to learn more? Contact family law attorney Sarina D. Hager of the Hager Law Firm for a consultation. Attorney Hager has nearly 30 years of experience handling complex child custody cases, including modifications of existing agreements. She will work with you to answer any questions you have about the process, including what to expect. Contact her firm by calling (903) 466-0001.