A Texas custody order comes backed by the full authority of the family courts. After a judge finalizes a custody order, there is an expectation that the parents and the family should comply with the terms outlined in that document.
A custody order typically includes specific instructions regarding the division of parental rights and responsibilities. The order may include terms about how much time each adult spends with the children and the allocation of decision-making authority. Texas law includes provisions requiring that parents share information about their children and seek to cooperate when making key decisions about their health care or other important decisions, such as where they attend school.
While respecting and upholding a custody order is important, Texas parents also need to recognize that their order is not set in stone. There is always the possibility of modifying or formally changing a custody order.
How do modifications occur?
There are two potential approaches to custody modification in Texas. There are consent modifications in which both parents agree on specific changes to their existing co-parenting arrangements. The parents can file a request for an uncontested custody modification. The judge reviews the request and typically changes the existing custody order to reflect the new terms set by the parents.
Other times, the parents may disagree about the necessity of a modification. They may need to take the matter back to family court. Each parent typically has an opportunity to present their side of the case to the judge. The judge then determines what would be appropriate while keeping the focus on the best interest of the children.
Parents can request more time with the children when they have improved their circumstances or when there are signs that their co-parent does not properly meet the needs of the children. Parents may also request more decision-making authority or Clarity on certain decisions related to the children, including the decision to relocate and move with the children.
A formal modification secured through the courts is usually necessary for the legal protection of the adults in a family. Otherwise, they could face enforcement actions or possibly even allegations of parental kidnapping. All changes that aren’t formalized will also remain unenforceable.
Ultimately, realizing that changing a custody order is an option may benefit those struggling to make an outdated custody order work for their families.