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When A Plan Just Isn’t Working

Most parents enter a custody or support agreement intending to do their best. Even with the best intentions, things happen that can necessitate a change. A health issue, changing needs of the child, a new relationship, a job change or another life event can precipitate the need to revisit your custody and support terms. At Law Office of Diane St. Yves, PLLC, we understand that life is not static. We offer seasoned guidance and assistance with child support and custody modifications.

Modifying Your Texas Child Support

Courts have three reasons for approving a modification. First, if your circumstances or your child’s circumstances or needs have significantly changed. Second, if three years have passed since the order was rendered or last modified. The last reason is if there are changes in the child support guidelines. The court uses a 20% change as the required difference. The difference needs to be either 20% or $100 different from the amount that is in the agreement.

A significant change can involve many shifts. The most common changes that are accepted for modification of child support are:
  • If the child now lives with the other parent
  • If a paternity test shows that there is a different father
  • If there is a proven and significant change in income or employment
  • If there is the birth of another child
  • If there is a significant change in the amount of time each parent is spending with the child
  • If one parent goes to jail or prison

A court must formally approve all changes. If you and your spouse have a verbal agreement about changing child support, this typically will not hold up in court.

Courts use the statutory guidelines to calculate any changes to child support. Factors to consider include salary and income from all sources, medical expenses and the total number of children to support. Either parent can seek a modification as long as one of the circumstances listed above is met. If you are unable to meet your support obligations or want to better understand your rights and obligations as a parent, speak with a member of our team.

When Your Parenting Time Needs To Change

Sometimes, a job change or other unforeseen situations require parents to relocate, possibly across the state, out of the state or even out of the country. In these cases, and if there is a geographic restriction in the underlying order, you and the other parent will need to reach a written parenting time arrangement.

If you are not able to reach an agreement, you will need to file a formal motion to modify your custody schedule. Whenever something as significant as this happens and it affects your rights as a parent, it is often in your best interests to speak with a family law attorney who handles child custody disputes. Our team has handled numerous cases involving child custody, including modifications to existing custody schedules. We are here to answer the questions you have about your case and what your options are.

We can help you determine if a court is likely to grant your relocation request. As attorneys with extensive experience with Texas family law matters, we are able to provide full-scope counsel.

What Factors Will Affect Whether A Modification Is Approved

There are many reasons you may wish to make changes to your agreement. Life is not static and things are constantly changing. There may be a shift in your need or abilities to parent, as well as in your child’s needs.

Many people need to move for health reasons because they’ve been relocated as part of their job, or because, in order to advance in their career, they need to take a new position in a new town. The court, typically, is amenable to these reasons. But the court will also look at the “big picture” effects of your request; how your move affects the child and the other parent.

Before agreeing to issue a modification, the court will examine certain factors such as:

  • How far away you are moving
  • Your relationship with your child and how often each parent sees the child
  • How your move will affect the relationship between your child and the other parent
  • The reason behind your move
  • The reason the other parent opposes your modification request
  • The ability to facilitate a relationship between the child and both parents
  • How available and safe it is for your child to travel to see the other parent

If the court determines that you have a material and substantial life change, it will move forward. When issuing a decision, the court will consider the best interests of the child.

Some of the influencing criteria are:

  • Your child’s age, health, school and connection to where they live
  • If your child will be economically, emotionally or educationally enhanced
  • How the move affects quality of lifestyle
  • The existence of animosity among the co-parents
  • The child’s relationship with local family members
  • What the child wants

The court can then issue a custody ruling, if any, for you and your children.

Get Your Modification Questions Answered

If you have questions or concerns about child custody and visitation modifications, speak with our experienced team. Call 281-816-4258 and schedule a consultation. You can also connect with us via this contact form. In Houston, we serve clients throughout the Greater Houston area.