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When can parents modify custody or child support orders?

People’s lives in Texas can be unpredictable. There are many things they can count on or aspects of their lives that they can plan for, but unexpected events do occur which can change these plans. This is true for children as well. As children grow older their needs change and the circumstances around them can change as well. Parents need to adjust their parenting of the children to meet their changing needs.

If the parents have custody or child support orders, this may require needing to modify those orders. In many situations these orders can be in place for many years. What may have been appropriate when the children were young, may not work years later when the children are older. In order to modify the orders certain criteria must be met though.

Modifying custody

In situations when more than a year has gone by since the last order, to modify a custody order parents must first demonstrate that there has been a significant change in the circumstances and the change must be substantial and material since the time of the last order. Modifications can also occur if the child is over 12 years old and is able to tell a judge their preferences for where they want to live. Any modification needs to be in the best interests of the children though.

If it has been less than a year since the last order, the parent must show the current circumstances are endangering the children’s physical or mental health.

Modifying child support

Like the requirement for modifying a child custody order, a parent needs to demonstrate that there has been a substantial and material change in the circumstances since the last order. It also must be three years since the date of the last order. The change in the circumstances also needs to result in a change to the current amount ordered by at least 20% and a minimum of $100 according to the child support guidelines.

Life changes for people living in Texas. It is hard to predict everything so any order is based on the circumstances of the parents and children at the time the order is issued. Circumstances can definitely change though and people may need to modify the orders to accurately reflect the changes that have occurred. These are very fact-specific matters though and consulting with experienced attorneys could be beneficial.


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