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Are child custody and support orders permanent?

You just wanted to get through your divorce as fast as possible, who wouldn't? So, you agreed to child custody and support orders that, at the time, you felt were okay. Now, months or years after the dust has settled, you feel that your custody arrangement is just not working and you are struggling to meet your support obligation and provide for yourself, or you feel that if given a custody change you shouldn't have to pay as much. What can you do?

Did you know that child custody and support orders are not necessarily permanent? Parents in Texas have the right to seek modifications of these orders.

Seeking a custody modification

If you feel that your scheduled parenting time is not working or you feel that it is not serving your children's best interests, you do have the right to seek a change. There are a couple of ways to go about doing this. You can talk things through with your ex and, if a new plan is agreed upon, submit the requested changes to court for approval and an order update. If negotiating a new plan does not work for you, you may submit a custody adjustment petition directly with the court.

While going to court is not ideal, if you desire a custody modification, a judge is going to want to know why. There are many reasons for wanting this type of adjustment. After submitting your request, paying your court fees and having the petition served to your ex, you will both have to attend a court hearing at which you will both be given time to explain your reasons for or against the change. A judge will then get the final say on the matter.

Seeking a support order modification

Seeking a support order modification is much like seeking a custody order modification. It may be something you can work out with your ex without going to court. If you can, you simply have to submit the new agreement for court approval and update. If you cannot, you may need to file an adjustment request for court approval.

If you end up going to court, you need to prove to a judge that you experienced a change in circumstances making your current support order a burden for you or invalid. You can do this by:

  • Submitting proof of job loss
  • Submitting proof of income loss
  • Submitting a new custody order — if applicable
  • Submitting proof of other financial difficulty or lack of disposable income

While financially supporting your children is important, the courts do understand that life happens and are willing to adjust orders under the right circumstances.

Seeking modifications to child custody and support orders is not necessarily easy. Such requests are not always granted. This does not mean there is no hope. With a little legal assistance, you can do everything possible to achieve fair and balanced custody and support plans that best serve you and your children.

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