Change is the only constant in life. And parenting plans are no exception to that rule. As circumstances change, parents need to reassess and modify their parenting plan (also called a custody agreement) for the best interests of their child. In Texas, the law allows for the modification of a parenting plan under specific conditions. However, the process is not always straightforward, and it is crucial to understand the procedures, costs, and possible outcomes. Read on to learn more about how to change a parenting plan in the Lone Star State.
Can You Change a Parenting Plan?
Yes, you can change a parenting plan in Texas by filing a petition to modify the original parenting plan. The Texas Family Code allows for changes in child custody or visitation orders only when it will be in the “best interest” of the child. However, the request must meet other requirements before the court will consider a modification.
Material and Substantial Change in Circumstances
Before a court will consider a petition, the moving parent must show that there has been a material and substantial change in circumstances. Several shifts in circumstances could mean that the current parenting plan is no longer in the best interest of the child. Examples of relevant variables that might affect a child’s well-being are a parent’s relocation, a parent’s criminal activity, or changes in the child’s needs. The phrase “material and substantial changes” also includes alterations in a parent’s job schedule, a change in the child’s preference (if the child is at least 12 years old), and any change that significantly affects the child’s well-being.
If it’s been less than one year since the parties signed the last order, there is an additional hurdle to overcome. Specifically, the parent requesting the change will need to provide a supporting affidavit indicating that the child’s present environment may endanger the child’s physical health. Alternatively, the affidavit must show that the child’s present environment significantly impairs the child’s emotional development.
Best Interests of the Child
If the moving parent demonstrates that there has been a material and substantial change in circumstances, the court will proceed to consider whether a change is in the best interests of the child. In Texas, the best interest of the child is always the primary concern when making determinations about child custody and visitation. A court’s primary duty is to assess which outcome is best for the child’s physical, emotional, and mental development.
Can You Modify a Parenting Plan Without Going to Court?
Yes, it is possible to modify a parenting plan without going to court in Texas. The simplest way to do this is through an uncontested modification. This approach is ideal for parents who are able to communicate and agree on changes. Once the parents reach an agreement, they put the new parenting plan in writing and submit it to the court for approval. The new agreement should clearly outline the proposed changes and address whether those changes are in the best interests of the child.
If you need some help reaching an agreement, you may consider participating in mediation. A neutral mediator can help you discuss the modification issues and reach an agreement.
Modifying your parenting plan outside of court can save time and money for both parents. In addition, it can help both parties avoid the stresses associated with a court proceeding.
Once the parents submit their revised parenting plan, the court will review it. If the court finds that the changes are in the best interests of the child, it will generally approve the modification without requiring a court hearing.
Let The Larson Law Office Be Your Legal Guide Through Your Parenting Plan Modification
Now you know the basics of how to modify a parenting plan. And with that knowledge, you now probably understand that modifying a parenting plan in Texas is rarely simple or straightforward. In fact, even uncontested modifications often require court hearings. Given the potential challenges and the importance of securing the best possible outcome for your child, you should strongly consider consulting an experienced legal professional.
At The Larson Law Office, we pride ourselves on offering every client the knowledgeable counsel and dedicated representation they need. We also strive to provide personal service and individualized attention to each one of our clients. That means we will treat you with the empathy, concern, and humanity you deserve.
Our lawyers have been awared the Martindale-Hubbell AV® Preeminent™ Peer-Review rating. Contact us today.