Children need stability when their parents separate or divorce. Frequent changes to existing child custody arrangements can sometimes cause more harm than good.
So, a child custody and visitation order (referred to as conservatorship and possession and access in Texas) will not be modified by the court for frivolous or vindictive reasons. A modification of a child custody or visitation order will only be granted if doing so is in the child’s best interests. In addition, one of the following circumstances must be present.
Change in circumstances
A modification might be granted if there is a change in the life circumstances of the child or one or both parents that is both material and substantial. A simple change of mind is not material or substantial.
A life change that negatively impacts the child or that makes it impossible for a parent to adequately care for the child might be considered material and substantial, depending on the facts of the case. A parent moving so far away as to make an existing custody and visitation arrangement impossible to adhere to might also be material and substantial.
The child’s wishes
A modification might be granted if the child has expressed a preference to live with the non-custodial parent. A child must be age 12 or older to do make such a request. The court is not bound to honor the request if it is not in the best interests of the child, or the child is not mature enough to make such an important decision.
A modification might be granted if the current custodial parent has voluntarily given up care of the child to someone else for the past six months, meaning the non-custodial parent might seek primary care and possession of the child. These circumstances do not apply if the child is in someone else’s care because the custodial parent is performing military duty.
Child custody won’t be changed on a whim
You cannot get a child custody or visitation order changed on a whim. You cannot get it changed just because you don’t like it. You cannot get it changed because you do not like your child’s other parent.
Child custody orders will only be modified under two circumstances. The change must serve the best interests of the child and the change must be within the parameters of the Texas Family Code circumstances for modification.