Settling the terms of your divorce is a huge relief. You can finally breathe and have a chance at a fresh start. However, specific circumstances might require modifying the court order, whether you need a change in spousal maintenance, child support, or child custody. When that happens, you should contact a family law order modification lawyer for help.
At Smith Family Law, we understand the importance of changing the terms of a legal agreement to fit your current situation. Maybe you lost your job and can no longer support your ex financially. Or your ex plans to relocate cross-country, necessitating a new child custody arrangement.
No matter what prompted the decision to bring your case back to court, you can depend on our legal team to handle the modification request carefully and diligently. Call us at 512-714-2877 today for a free consultation with a family law order modification attorney in Austin.
Types of Post-Divorce Modifications in Texas
Smith Family Law can represent you after you finalize your divorce to amend an established court order involving issues such as:
When seeking modifications, especially in such pivotal areas, the expertise of a family law order modification lawyer becomes indispensable. They will help navigate the intricacies of the legal process to ensure your interests are safeguarded.
Modifying Child Custody and Visitation
The terms used to describe custody and visitation in Texas are conservatorship and possession. Conservatorship refers to a parent’s role in deciding on a child’s education, medical needs, and other critical decisions. Possession refers to where the child lives and when a parent can access them.
The courts accept modification requests for conservatorship and possession orders under limited circumstances. Typically, a judge will change an established order if it’s in the child’s best interests and the request involves at least one of these factors:
- The circumstances of one or both parents, the child, or someone else affected by the order changed substantially and materially since the date of signing the settlement agreement regarding the current order or the date of the current order, whichever happened earlier
- The child is 12 or older and expresses the preference for who they should primarily reside with to the court
- The parent with the exclusive right to determine the child’s primary residence gave up primary possession and care of their child to someone else voluntarily for six months or longer
The only exception to the circumstance involving a parent giving up their right to possession and care of their child is if they did it because of military service.
Modifying Child Support
You can request to change a child support order only if at least one of these circumstances apply:
- The court issued the support order or approved a modification more than three years ago; and
- The amount the court would order differs from the amount of the current child support order by 20% or $100; or
- Since issuing the child support order, there has been a substantial and material change in circumstances.
A substantial and material change in circumstances can include situations such as:
- Significant income changes – Sometimes, the parent who pays child support can’t work due to incarceration, disability, or illness or loses their job. When that happens, they might request a modification to lower the payment amount. A request to increase the payment amount might occur if one parent discovers the other parent received a raise or promotion. However, increasing a child support obligation requires proving there has been a significant boost in income and that the amount in the current order doesn’t sufficiently meet the child’s needs.
- Change in the number of children or parenting time – Typically, the noncustodial parent (the parent who doesn’t live with the child primarily) pays child support. However, the time each parent spends with their child is often a factor in the calculations since the law assumes the parents provide for their child whenever they have physical custody. A modification might be necessary if one parent spends significantly less or more time caring for their child.
- Cohabitation or remarrying – One parent might start living with a partner or get married. Although that is a substantial and material change in circumstances, it isn’t enough to justify modifying the child support order. Also, proof is needed that marriage or cohabitation alters a parent’s income or expenses for support.
- Change in the child’s needs – The child’s needs might change after the court issues a support order. The court might approve a modification request if the child’s medical or educational needs change significantly. Modifying the order is also allowed if the child’s medical insurance coverage changes.
- How To Change Your Last Name After A Divorce In Texas
- When Can I Get Married After a Divorce in Texas?
Modifying Spousal Maintenance
You must show a substantial and material change in circumstances to request a spousal maintenance order modification. The change must occur after the date the court issues the order. You can also request a modification if there is a maintenance qualified domestic relations order or decree providing for maintenance.
For a court to approve the modification, you must show the change in circumstances and the circumstances related to either parent used by the court to determine whether either spouse is eligible for maintenance, such as:
- The duration of the marriage
- Each spouse’s ability to provide for their minimum reasonable needs
- The employment history, earning ability, physical and emotional condition, and age of the spouse seeking maintenance
- One spouse’s contribution to the other’s increased earning power, education, or training
- Each spouse’s ability to meet their minimum reasonable needs while providing maintenance or child support
Get Started on Your Modification Request Today
When significant changes occur in your life, your child’s life, or your ex’s life, modifying an order you negotiated or the court granted during your divorce could be necessary. You should not pursue a modification without an experienced family law order modification lawyer in Austin.
Smith Family Law knows how crucial providing for yourself and your family is. Our team will review your case and determine whether you’re eligible to change a current family law order. Then, we will fight to achieve the change you need and to protect your interests.