For many people who go through a divorce, the final decree will be the end of the divorce. If the spouses have children, they will be forced to deal with one another for years to come, at least as far as the children are concerned. Others, with no children (or grown children), may walk away thinking they will never have to deal with their ex again. Life circumstances can and do change, however, and these changes can dictate necessary modifications of previous orders. These modifications are not always easy and can become contentious.
If it turns out that you are either being asked by your ex to modify a prior court order regarding your divorce or you need to ask for a modification, due to changes in your own circumstances, Landrith & Kulesz, L.L.P. can help. We understand that modifications are sometimes necessary and want to make these modifications as easy on you as possible, regardless of which “side” you are on. Modifications of divorce orders are rarely easy—it is unusual that both parties will be in total agreement regarding a modification. A compassionate, experienced, highly skilled Landrith & Kulesz, L.L.P. attorney will be the buffer between you and your ex, fighting hard for your rights, and your future.
Modifying Texas Family Law Orders
Overall, Texas courts hesitate to modify prior court orders, however, when it can be proven that a modification is necessary, it can be brought before the court. There are a number of family law orders which can be modified, including child custody, child support, and spousal support.
Modifying a Texas Child Custody Agreement
The court resists child custody modifications in the belief that such changes can shake up the stability and consistency in a child’s life by changing the child’s primary residence. If the modification order is made within one year of when the original custody agreement was formalized, the parent requesting the modification may be required to jump through even more legal hoops to have the order modified.
Modifying Custody Within a Year from the Date of the Last Order
If you want to have your custody arrangement modified within a year, you must show that the child’s current environment is potentially dangerous to his or her mental, emotional, or physical health. Some of the issues which might fall under this umbrella are a parent doing drugs in the home, selling drugs in the home, engaging in violent behaviors, or otherwise placing the child at risk. Serious neglect of the child could also qualify for a custody modification. Just determining there is a risk to the child on your own will not automatically equal a custody modification.
If the other parent has primary custody of the child, and he or she consents to your filing of the modification, then the case will be allowed to proceed. As you might imagine, this is rarely the case. In situations where the other parent has voluntarily relinquished control and possession of your child for at least six months, then your modification might be granted.
Modifying Custody After a Year from the Date of the Last Order
In cases where one of the parties seek to modify custody arrangements after a year has passed since the date of the last order, the movant must show that there have been material and substantial changes to the facts of one or both of the parties or to the child and that such modification would be in the best interest of the child.
Modifying a Texas Child Support Order
Modifications of child support are probably the most often sought modification of an order. The receiving parent may want an increase in child support, or the paying parent may be asking for a decrease in child support. As with any type of modification case, it must be shown that there has been a “material and substantial” change in circumstances, either for the child, the paying parent, or the receiving parent. Generally, three years must have elapsed since the original child support order for either parent to bring a case for modification of child support. If a child has a new, special need, the court might order more child support to be paid. If the paying parent has lost his or her job, the court might order that a smaller amount be paid for a short period of time, or if either parent has been diagnosed with a serious medical condition, the child support could be modified.
Modifying Other Parts of a Texas Parenting Plan
Aside from custody and child support, there are other areas where a parent may fail to live up to the rules set forth in a parenting plan. Perhaps the parent who is supposed to pick the child up every Friday at 5:00 has not shown up for three weeks in a row. Or suppose the parent with primary custody is not allowing the visitation ordered by the court. Failure to obey a court order is known as contempt of court. If it is established that one parent has consistently failed to obey the orders set forth by the court, that parent could be fined, and could even be sent to jail.
Modifying Spousal Support in Texas
After a judge has ordered a specific amount of spousal support, the finances of one of the spouses could change substantially. In general, it is up to the paying spouse to ask for a review of spousal support based on a change of circumstance. This could be the loss of a job or could be that the receiving spouse has now graduated from college and obtained a high-paying job. It is important to note that Texas law terminates a spousal maintenance order, regardless of the amount of time set for the support, if the receiving spouse remarries or cohabits with another person in a romantic relationship.
How a Landrith & Kulesz, L.L.P. Attorney Can Help Modify Your Family Law Order
If you believe you have good reason to ask for a modification of a family law order, you could benefit from speaking to an experienced Landrith & Kulesz, L.L.P. family law attorney. We are well-versed in all types of modifications, and can either help you obtain a modification, or we can help defend you against a spouse asking for a modification that you do not believe is just. When you hire Landrith & Kulesz, L.L.P., you will have a top family law attorney in Arlington, Texas.
Making important, life-changing decisions is much easier when you have a compassionate, experienced family law attorney you can trust to look after your best interests. Experience truly matters when determining the best outcome for you and your family. Contact Landrith & Kulesz, L.L.P. today for a consultation to determine your best course of action regarding the modification of an order or any other family law issue.