If you are a divorced parent in Texas, you may have experienced some challenges when it comes to sharing custody of your children during holidays and events.
You may have felt frustrated or angry when your ex-spouse tried to prevent you from having access to your children or custody of your children during these times.
You may also have wondered if there is anything you can do to change the situation and protect your parental rights.
Child custody can be modified
The good news is that you are not stuck with the current custody order forever. You have the option of seeking a modification of the order if there has been a material and substantial change in circumstances that affects the best interest of your children.
What are the grounds in Texas?
Under Texas law, either parent may file a petition seeking child custody modification at any time. The court may approve a child custody modification as long as there is a change in circumstance in which the current order no longer reflects the child’s best interest.
However, not every change in circumstance is considered material and substantial enough to justify a modification.
The court will look at various factors to determine if a modification is warranted. This includes the age, preferences, health and safety of the child.
It also includes the stability and continuity of the child’s environment, the relationship between the child and each parent and the ability and willingness of each parent to cooperate and communicate. The distance between the parents’ residences and the presence of any family violence or child abuse are also factors, including the financial situation of each parent and any other relevant factors.
Examples of material and substantial changes
Examples of material and substantial changes that can trigger a modification are a parent’s relocation that significantly affects the possession schedule or the child’s welfare. Another possible qualifying change is if a parent remarries, which introduced a new family dynamic or a potential conflict of interest. A parent’s illness, disability or death that affects their ability to care for the child could also qualify.
A parent’s criminal conviction or probation for child abuse, family violence or other serious offenses can qualify as a material and substantial change that can trigger a modification.
A parent’s substance abuse or mental health issues that impair their judgment or endanger the child can qualify, in addition to a parent’s neglect or abandonment of the child. And, a parent’s interference with the other parent’s rights or access to the child can also qualify.