Your child custody order was recently implemented, but unfortunately, it is no longer working well for you or your child. You want to modify the current child custody order so that it better suits your current situation, but you are not quite sure how to go about achieving the modifications you are seeking. Obtaining the legal services of a lawyer who is an expert in child custody modifications is a great place to start. They are experienced, knowledgeable, experts in family law and child custody issues, and familiar with the Dallas County Courts.
Child custody orders are much more difficult to change if you are seeking the modification within the first year of implementation of the child custody order than if you are trying to change the order after the first year period has expired. Early in the process of seeking a child custody order modification, you will want to determine how long the current child custody order has been in effect. The start of the first year period is determined by the date the order or agreement was made, which could be a different date from when the judge signed the order. There are two ways to reach a child custody agreement. The agreement can be reached by the parties through some type of alternative dispute resolution, or the agreement can be reached through a trial or hearing. If you and the other parent reached an agreement in mediation, negotiations, or some other form of alternative dispute resolution, the clock starts running for the first year period the day the parties signed the agreement. If you obtained the child custody order through a hearing or trial, you will use the date the judge made the decision regarding your child custody order to start the clock for the first year period. Again, these may not be the date the judge signed the child custody orders.
If you determine that you are within the first-year time period, the court requires that the child custody situation meet specific criteria in order to modify the current child custody order. You must have what the court considers a valid reason to make modifications to the order, and as always, the court will consider what is in the best interest of the child. There are three acceptable valid reasons listed in the Texas Family Code to make a modification to a child custody order within the first year of implementation. The first reason is that the child’s present environment might endanger the child’s health or significantly impair the child’s emotional development. The second reason is that the primary parent is the person either seeking the modification or consenting to the modification being sought and the modification is in the best interest of the child. The third reason that the court considers valid is that 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 longer and the modification being requested is in the best interest of the child. If you are within the first year of the implementation of the current child custody agreement, you must qualify under one of these valid reasons to make the modification.
There are some exceptions to the situations and valid reasons mentioned above for parents who are serving a military deployment or are on military duty. The court will still always keep in mind what is best for the child, but if the primary parent temporarily relinquishes the primary care and custody of the child during their deployment or duty, it does not count towards reason three of voluntarily relinquishing the primary care and possession of the child for six months or longer. This is not to say that if the other parent is in the military you cannot get the current child custody order modified, it just means that relinquishing care and possession of the child during deployment or duty cannot be used as a reason to make the modification.
Although a child custody order is indeed easier to modify after the first-year time period has expired, contact a trusted divorce attorney for answers to your questions and help with your case.