Modifying A Child Custody Order

Texas is actively getting away from the word “custody” because it is beneficial for the child to have both parents in their life. Texas chooses to use the terms “conservatorship” and “possession and access” in place of “custody” and “visitation,” respectively. Defining terms is essential because this post pertains to whether you can modify an existing agreement. There are three different types of conservatorships in Texas:

  • Sole Managing Conservatorship – This person makes decisions for the child regarding things such as medical care and education. 
  • Joint Managing Conservatorship – Parents have equal rights regarding decisions. 
  • Possessory Conservatorship – This is synonymous with possession and access, formerly referred to as visitation. 

The primary physical residence is where the child lives most of the time. If one parent is not named as either the sole or joint managing conservator, then the court will ensure they have visitation rights by making that parent the possessory conservator. However, that only happens t if it is in the child’s best interest and the parent is not a threat to the child’s emotional or physical well-being. 

Regardless of who is named for each role, will it remain that way until the child is an adult? Although there are limited and specific circumstances that warrant a modification to a child conservatorship or possession and access order, it is possible to change them.

When Can I Modify an Order?

The easiest way to modify an order is if both parents agree to it. If you and your spouse disagree, you must appear in front of a judge to get the order modified. A judge will consider a modification if it is in the child’s best interest, and the child is twelve and wants their primary caregiver to change. Additionally, if there has been a “material and substantial” change in circumstances, you can also seek a modification order. 

What Are “Material & Substantial” Changes?

Everything comes back to what is in the best interest of the child. A parent who develops a substance abuse problem after the initial settlement agreement or becomes physically or emotionally abusive toward the child would constitute a substantial change in circumstances. Significant life events could also lead to a modification, such as you or your spouse getting remarried, being forced to relocate for work, or losing a job. 

Contact Fraser, Wilson, & Bryan, P.C., to Discuss Modifications 
At Fraser, Wilson, & Byran, P.C., we understand that as your children grow up, their needs will change, as will your circumstances. We work with clients like you who seek modifications that reflect those changes. Contact us today and set up a free consultation. We want to learn more about your issue so that we can find the best solution for you and your child.