Below are some frequently asked questions relating to Modifications.
- What is a modification?
A modification is a change to a previous court order regarding custody or child support issues. Modification Orders can be done by agreement of the parties, but must still be evidenced by a signed order filed with the court to be later enforceable.
- What provisions in my last order may be modified?
The provisions in a court order relating to conservatorship/custody (right and duties), child support, or possession of and access to the child may be modified.
- Under what circumstances may the amount of child support be changed (either up or down)?
In order to have child support modified (increased or lowered), there must be evidence showing:
- that the circumstances of the child or a person affected by the court order have “materially and substantially” changed since the date of the original order, OR
- three years have passed since the original order was entered or last changed, and the monthly amount of the child support differs by 20% or $100 from the amount that would be ordered paid if a modification is granted.
- How can I have primary custody changed?
A custody order may be modified upon a showing that:
- the circumstances of the child, the managing conservator (primary caretaker), or the possessory conservator (parent having possessory rights) have materially and substantially changed since the entry of the order; AND
- that the appointment of a new managing conservator would be a positive improvement for the child.
- Can an older child really choose which parent he wants to live with?
A parent on behalf of a child can request that the judge interview the child and the child can express his or her preferences. The Court may consider this information in determining what custody arrangement is in the best interest of the child, but it is not automatic.
- If my divorce was just six months ago, and I’ve changed my mind about letting my ex-spouse be the primary custodial parent, is it too soon to do a modification?
It depends. If a request for a change of custody is made within one (1) year of the date of the rendition of your order, you must be able to show one of the following before the Court will consider a modification changing custody:
- That the child’s present environment may endanger the child’s physical health or significantly impair the child’s emotional development; OR
- That the managing conservator (your ex-spouse) consents to the change of custody and the custody change is in the child’s best interest; OR
- That your ex-spouse (the managing conservator) has voluntarily relinquished (turned over) the actual care, control, and possession of the child for not less than six months and the custody change is in the child’s best interest.