What Qualifies as Material and Substantial Change?
The Texas Family Code does not define “material and substantial change”. Some examples of a “material and substantial” change of circumstances include changes to the home environment such as:
- When the child undergoes frequent moves;
- Remarriage of a parent;
- The violation of a geographic restriction by a parent;
- Interference with visitation by a parent;
- When the child’s age and needs change;
- Parental conflict; and
- Relocation of a parent.
If you are facing a dispute involving the modification of child visitation or custody orders, the Houston modification lawyers at the Larson Law Office can be of significant assistance to you in addressing these problems quickly and effectively.
What Else Do I Need to Know About a Texas Child Custody Modification?
If possible, before you contact an attorney, you should talk to the other parent or guardian about the modifications you want. The timeline for getting a modification varies depending on whether the other parent agrees to the change.
If everyone affected by the modification agrees to the changes you wish to make, you can cooperate in submitting the necessary documents to the court. You will need to file a petition to modify and a proposed modification order. If you want to modify child support, you will also need to file a proposed child support order. A family law attorney can help you prepare and review your documents.
Next, you will file the documents in the county where your original child custody order was issued. After you and the other parent have signed all of the paperwork, you will have a hearing at which the judge will sign your proposed order if they feel the changes are in the child’s best interests. Once you file the signed order with the clerk, your modification is final.
It is not always safe or possible to discuss a modification with your child’s other parent. Or maybe you have attempted to discuss a custody modification and the other parent will not agree to the changes.
A contested modification will most likely take longer than an agreed one. You and the other parent will probably need to attend mediation to see if you can reach an agreement. It is a good idea to talk to a Houston modification lawyer about a contested modification. A family law attorney can help you negotiate with the other parent during mediation and, if necessary, prove to a judge that the changes you want to make will benefit your child.
You may also be able to modify your child custody order by default. A default modification can occur if the other parties to the original order do not respond to your modification petition. Once the other parent has been served with the papers, they have 20 days plus the next Monday at 10 AM to file their answer. If they do not file an answer within this time, you may be able to finish your modification case by default. However, if the respondent parent files an answer with the court at any time before your case is finished, you cannot finish the case by default and must proceed with either an agreed or contested modification.