What if an Existing Child Custody Plan Isn’t Working?

As time passes after a divorce, it’s common for child custody plans to stop being as convenient – and appropriate–as they once were. Children grow up. They become teenagers with lives of their own. Sometimes parents move away. Other times, their situations change and they can’t parent the way they once did.
If your existing child custody plan has stopped working for your family, you are not stuck with it. Texas family law allows for modification of existing child custody plans. Here’s what you should know.

If Both Parents Agree, Things Are Easier

As with most parenting decisions, things are easier if both parents agree that the child custody order should be modified. When parents agree, all they need to do is submit a proposed custody order to the court. In most cases, the court reviews the proposed custody order and approves it.
Unfortunately, life is rarely that simple. If parents disagree about the change, they must both appear in court to have the order modified.

You Must Show a Significant Change in Circumstances

In order to grant a child custody modification, Texas family courts require you to show that a material and substantial change in circumstances has occurred. You must prove that the change in circumstances makes your current arrangement inappropriate or unworkable, as well as that the proposed change is in the child’s best interests. If you request the modification, that burden of proof rests with you.
What does “material and substantial in circumstances” mean? It depends on your case. Many different changes can qualify.

  • Texas courts have granted a modification when doctors diagnosed a child with a health issue that meant his parents needed to care for him differently.
  • They have also granted modifications when one parent was unable to find significant employment in Texas and was forced to relocate for work.
  • Courts have also granted modifications when a parent struggled with substance abuse and was no longer able to care for a child safely.

Older Children Have Some Say in the Matter

Texas law makes a distinction between children younger than 12 and children who are 12 years old and older. When a child is 12 and wishes to change the primary caregiver, courts may grant the modification. It’s likely that the judge will want to talk privately with the child, and the request will only be granted if the judge believes it’s in the child’s best interests.

Talking With a Lawyer Is a Good Idea

If your family’s needs have changed and an existing child custody plan is no longer working for you, talking with an attorney is a good first step. At the Schneider Law Firm, P.C., we can talk with you confidentially about your situation and help you take the best course of action. Call our Arlington law office at 817-799-7125 to get started.

4 Things You Should Know About the Texas Divorce Process

Most people who divorce have never done it before and didn’t expect to ever go through it. They have no idea what to expect. If you are considering a divorce or have been served with divorce papers, here are some basics you should know from the lawyers at the Schneider Law Firm, P.C., in Ft. Worth.

1. There Must Be Grounds for Divorce in Texas

Texas isn’t a “no-fault” divorce state. That means that in order to get a divorce in Texas, there must be a reason (“grounds for divorce”). The reason can include things like adultery, abandonment or conviction of a felony. Most divorces cite “insupportability” as the reason, which means that the marriage cannot continue due to conflicting personalities.

2. Contested vs. Uncontested Divorce

Divorces come in two types: contested and uncontested. Many people think that they have an uncontested divorce because they generally get along with their spouses. However, the definition is stricter. To have an uncontested divorce, you and your spouse must agree on every issue in the divorce. Otherwise, you have a contested divorce. Sometimes, divorces that start as uncontested divorces end as contested ones.

4 Things You Should Know About the Texas Divorce Process

3. You’ll Need to Resolve Four Major issues

Each divorce is different, and not all divorces involve children. Generally speaking, though, there are four major issues to consider in a Texas divorce:

  • Child custody: Texas courts divide child custody into conservatorship and possession/access. Conservatorship is the ability to make major decisions about the child’s life. Possession/access is where the child lives.
  • Property division: There are two types of property in Texas: community property and separate property. Community property is things you and your spouse have collected during the marriage – like your savings accounts and real estate. Your debts are also considered. Community property is usually split 50/50.
  • Child support: Courts order child support according to a series of Texas Child Support Guidelines that consider several factors.
  • Alimony: Courts can sometimes order alimony for a limited time when the receiving spouse is not able to earn enough income.

4. You Only Get One Chance to Do Your Divorce Right

It may sound harsh, but you only get one chance to decide the major issues of your divorce and make sure your interests are protected. It is possible to appeal a divorce in some cases, but it’s much easier to do things right the first time.
Talk with an attorney before making big decisions. Start by taking steps to get as much information as possible. Call the Arlington office of Schneider Law Firm, P.C., at 817-755-1852.