As a parent, you want to do what is best for your child. Like you, the courts want to keep what is best for the child at the front of their mind when making any decisions regarding child custody and child custody orders. When the current child custody orders were agreed upon the court and all the parties involved probably had the best interest of the child in mind, but shortly after the order was implemented it is just not working anymore. Modifying the order is in the best interest of the child and you are wondering how to go about making a modification to the current child custody order.
In order to determine what options you have regarding the child custody order modification you are seeking, it will be important to determine if you are within the first-year period of implementation or if the first-year period has already expired. The current child custody order was either put in place through mutual agreement of the parties or by a judge-made decision during a hearing or trial. If the current child custody order was decided by a judge the start date of the first year period is the date that the judge made the decision. If the current child custody order was implemented through an agreement made by the parties during mediation, negotiations, conferencing, or some other form of alternative dispute resolution the start date is the date that both parties signed the child custody agreement. These start dates may be different than the date the judge actually signed the order, so you will want to check carefully since making modifications to an order after the first year period has expired is easier than making the changes during the first year of implementation.
In order to make an adjustment or a modification to a child custody order during the first year of implementation, you must have a valid reason for doing so. A valid reason in this context is not just what you, as the parent, think is a valid reason but is instead what the court considers to be a valid reason. The acceptable valid reasons fall under three specific situations according to section 156.102 of the Family Code. All three valid reasons have to be in the best interest of the child who is the subject of the current child custody order. The first situation where a modification can be sought within the first year of implementation is if the child’s current living environment may endanger the child’s physical health or may significantly impair the child’s emotional development. The second situation is that the parent with the exclusive right to designate the primary residence of the child is the person who is seeking the child custody order modification or they are consenting to the modification that is being sought by the other parent. The third situation that would be considered a valid reason for seeking a modification of a child custody order within a year of implementation is that the primary parent, or the parent with the exclusive right to designate the primary residence, has voluntarily relinquished the primary care and possession of the child for six months or more.
As with many rules, there are some exceptions to the acceptable valid reasons. If the parent with the exclusive right to designate the primary residence of the child voluntarily relinquishes the primary care and possession of the child for six months or more because of a military deployment or military duty their exclusive right to designate the primary residence of the child will not be taken away without showing other valid reasons that the current child custody order should be modified.
Seeking a child custody order modification can be tricky. It would be wise to obtain the legal services of an attorney who is an expert in child custody issues and familiar with the courts in your community. This board certification means that they have demonstrated that they exceed levels of professional excellence specifically in family law. They have several years of experience to draw from. The attorneys are well versed in the issues that arise in family law and have many tools to not only overcome obstacles that arise during a case but to customize their advice and guidance to best fit your specific goals and situation.