Ask a Family Divorce Lawyer: Can a Child Custody Agreement Be Changed?

Child custody arrangements are crucial for stable childcare after divorce. Whether parents have equal joint custody or one parent has primary custodianship and the other has visitation, it's important to maintain child custody agreements that are ordered by the court. However, if there comes a time when you need to change these arrangements, you may want to ask your lawyer about child custody modification.


Ask a Family Divorce Lawyer: Can a Child Custody Agreement Be Changed?

A family divorce lawyer in Houston, TX will be able to answer all of your questions about modifying your current child custody agreement. However, you should know that either parent is entitled to file a petition to modify the standing child custody agreement at any time.

That said, although parents can request a modification to the child custody arrangements at any time, it's best to wait at least one year before requesting a modification since this will support the stability of the child's home life. It's also good to avoid frivolous requests since a judge will reject your petition if you do not have adequate evidence to modify the child custody agreement.

What Is the Process for Child Custody Modification?

The process to modify your child custody agreement is not one that you can complete by yourself. You will need to work with  Hogan Omidi family law attorneys to navigate the entire process of modifying your child custody agreement. This is because modifying a child custody agreement essentially modifies a portion of your divorce agreement and can also have an impact on any child support arrangements.

File a Petition

First, your lawyer will need to file a petition to modify your child custody agreement with the family court. The petition will need to include preliminary evidence and a statement about why the child custody agreement should be modified.

It's essential to include enough evidence on the petition to convince the judge to grant a hearing. Without enough evidence, you will not have a hearing and the child custody arrangements will not be altered.

Gather Evidence

Before your hearing, you will need to gather adequate evidence to prove why the child custody agreement should be changed. If you are concerned that the child is not receiving adequate supervision, for example, you can gather witness statements from neighbors, teachers, or doctors.

If you are arguing that you should be able to spend more time with your child, you also need to provide evidence that you can offer a stable home life. This can include bank records, lease agreements, and other documentation.

Prove Significant Change

Another important element will be proving significant change. Much of the time, child custody arrangements are modified when there is a significant change in the lifestyle of one of the parents. For example, if one parent is required to move out of state for a job, then the child custody agreement will need to be modified.

Additionally, if the parent who has primary custodianship of the child is actively deployed in the military, this could be an opportunity to modify child custody arrangements so that the child is under the care of a parent instead of a guardian.

Attend a Hearing

Attending the hearing is the final step in modifying the child custody agreement. The hearing may be scheduled for several weeks or months after you file a petition with the family court. During your hearing, your lawyer will present evidence to support your petition. Your ex's lawyer may provide evidence to argue against your petition.

The judge will ultimately rule in the best interest of the child, which could mean that your petition to modify the child custody agreement is unchanged or is modified in your favor.

When Is the New Agreement Enforceable?

The new child custody agreement is enforceable immediately after it is filed with the court. This means that any changes to primary custodianship should be handled immediately so that the child custody arrangement is honored. If the other parent is not complying with the order, you can file a complaint with the court.

How Soon Can You File a Modification?

In Texas, you can file a petition to modify a child custody agreement at least one year after the previous child custody agreement has been filed. The one-year waiting period is designed to give the child stability at home and at school, particularly if parents live in different counties or states.

What If You Suspect Child Abuse?

If you suspect child abuse, you will not need to wait one year to file a petition to modify the child custody arrangement. In the case of sexual, mental, and physical abuse, so long as you have sufficient evidence of this abuse, you can file an emergency petition with the court at any time.

As a parent, you are entitled to request a modification of the current child custody agreement at any time, particularly if it's been at least one year since the current arrangement was established. Child custody modification can be beneficial to the entire family, such as if there are significant changes in income or lifestyle.

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