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Modifying Child Custody Agreements
One thing about life is that it does go on — even after divorce, but especially when you have kids. As your children get older, a variety of things change. The kids will eventually have different interests and needs. Your former spouse may live a life that is either recognizable, unrecognizable or somewhere in the middle. Even your own life will probably be a lot different and it will continue to change as time goes on.
When these changes no longer fit within the child custody plan devised for your family during your initial divorce, it may be time to modify the agreement. Talk to a McKinney child custody attorney at Nordhaus Walpole PLLC about what it takes to modify your child custody agreement.
Your Children’s Best Interest
No matter how long it’s been or what circumstances have changed since your divorce, child custody in Texas is always about the best interest of your children. This was true when you divorced and it continues to be true during petitions to modify custody.
There are a number of valid reasons why you might want to change your custody agreement -- as long as it serves your children’s best interest, such as:
- Your children are asking to spend more time with you or their other parent.
- School schedules make it more reasonable to spend the whole week with one parent.
- Extracurricular activities take up more of your children’s interest on weekends.
- Financial situations have improved dramatically for one or both parents.
- Your children or you hope they can connect with new step-parents or step-siblings.
- Career advancement includes moving, longer hours or other parenting trade-offs.
When such positive or less tension-filled life changes occur, it is possible for child custody modifications to occur without issue. Some parents are able to see the child’s best interest the same way or have the ability to rely on co-parenting skills they picked up after the divorce. In those instances, a judge can usually issue a new order without much debate.
In other cases, parents may have to deal with push-back from the other parent who sincerely disagrees or simply makes things difficult because of anger, resentment or a dysfunctional personality. This may occur if any of the following has taken place:
- Drugs or alcohol have become a problem for the parent, child or in one of the parental homes.
- Violence has occurred. In these cases, please seek a domestic injunction if you need one.
- Failures or behavioral issues at school point to lack of discipline or larger or deeper problems.
- Financial circumstances have dramatically worsened for one or both parents.
- Any other of several reasons why your children’s best interest is no longer being served.
When these changes are contested, it’s important to work with a child custody attorney who can show the courts exactly what is in the best interest of your children based on evidence.
What to Expect When You Request a Child Custody Modification
Requesting a child custody modification is a legal process with significant legal implications, so it is imperative that you hire an experienced attorney to assist you throughout the process. The steps involved will depend on whether you and your other child’s parent are in agreement as to both (i) whether a modification is necessary, and (ii) what the terms of the modification should be. If you are both in complete agreement, then your lawyer will be able to draft a modified parenting plan to submit to the appropriate court for approval. If you are not in complete agreement, then your attorney will need to file a motion and respond to any objections submitted by your former spouse.
Requesting (or Fighting Against a Request for) Termination of Parental Rights
Terminating parental rights is a legal matter that the Texas courts do not take lightly. If you believe that it is in your child’s best interests to terminate his or her other parent’s rights, or if your former spouse is seeking to terminate your parental rights, you need to discuss your situation with an experienced family law attorney. Our attorneys can help you, and we encourage you to contact us promptly for a free and confidential consultation. We will explain your options in detail and help you choose the best path forward.
Contested Modifications in Texas
If your former spouse or the child’s other parent contests the modification, the attorneys at Nordhaus Walpole, PLLC can show the court that what you are requesting is in the best interest of the child. We must demonstrate that the requested changes are best for the children and we must show that the circumstances have materially changed. In some instances, depending on the child’s age, the child may tell the judge in chambers what he or she wants and the judge could take the child’s preferences under consideration as well.
If you have concerns about custody modifications, let one of our attorneys help you as soon as possible. We are experienced in negotiation, meditation and trials. You can rest assured we are able to use all avenues to help protect your children’s best interest.