child custody modification reasons

Reasons for a Child Custody Modification

When it comes to child custody battles, and modifying a custody agreement, the court seeks to do that which is in the best interest of the child.

There are three primary situations in which the Court can modify a child custody order:

  • One parent has relinquished the child to the other for six months or more
  • The child files a written request to live with the other parent once they reach a certain age
  • There has been a material and substantial change in circumstances warranting modification of the underlying order.

Typically, in custody modification cases, the last option is the most commonly used and can encompass a variety of situations. These situations can range from a change is residence or change in work schedule to a criminal proceeding involving one of the parents. Since each case and set of circumstances are very different, it is important to meet with an experienced family law attorney to determine if a modification of the order is warranted.

Is the Current Situation Adequate?

Even if there has been a material and substantial change, if the court believes that the current situation for the child is adequate and in their best interest, they will be hesitant to make changes to the original custody agreement.

Unless there is proof of circumstances in which the child may be in danger of either physical or emotional harm, most courts prefer the child stays in the current situation for the sake of stability and consistency.

However, it does not necessarily need to be an extreme scenario in which the child is subject to harm. For example, if a parent currently has sole custody of a child, but is planning to move out of the state for a new job, the other parent may petition the court for a modification in custody.

The non-custodial parent may cite that the child will be losing the stability of his or her current life, friends, school, and other aspects of his or her living situation. In a case such as this, the court may agree that this is a significant change in the quality of the child’s living situation. However, this is not always the case.

Does the child have a say in who gets custody?

If the child is 12 years of age or older, he or she is legally allowed to speak to the Judge regarding his or her preference regarding which parent has the right to designate his or her primary residence and/or custody.  

However, the child’s preference is not binding on the judge and the judge will still have to determine what is in the child’s best interest.

More questions? Please contact the experienced Houston custody attorneys at The Stout Law Firm, P.L.L.C. today.

We are ready to help.

Angela Stout

Angela A. Stout was admitted to the State Bar of Texas in 2007. Ms. Stout has practiced law since 2007, with an emphasis in representing clients in family law matters. She earned her Juris Doctorate degree from South Texas College of Law in May of 2007. Ms. Stout became Board Certified in Family Law by the Texas Board of Legal Specialization in December of 2015. The Texas Board of Legal Specialization is a specialized group of attorneys that must obtain exceptional experience in a specific area of law, pass a comprehensive exam, and complete ongoing continuing legal education in that specialized area. Additionally, Ms. Stout is certified as a mediator by the A.A. White Dispute Resolution Center.

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