The holidays may inspire a single parent in the greater Dallas area to start thinking about whether he is satisfied with his child custody arrangement.
Someone who is thinking about asking for a change should first examine her existing conservatorship, possession and access order. As a reminder, in Texas, legal custody is officially referred to as conservatorship while parenting time may be called possession or access depending on the circumstances.
Generally speaking, court orders about custody and parenting time will continue to apply until they get officially changed. Even if the other parent agrees, it can be legally dangerous to deviate from an order without getting formal permission from the court, especially if the change is on an ongoing basis.
One option is for a person to ask the other parent to agree to a change. This option may be ideal if both parents generally get along or if the change is only to update an existing arrangement that both parents have had for a long time.
A Rockwall resident who wants a custody change may have to go to court
Unfortunately, parents may not always be willing to negotiate a change in the existing parenting plan.
In these situations, the parent wanting the change will have to convince the court that he is legally entitled to it. The possibility of a court hearing is one reason why many parents choose to hire a family law attorney when considering a custody change.
Texas courts are not willing to re-consider conservatorship and access orders without some good reason to do so. Usually, the parent who wants to pursue a change will have to demonstrate a significant change in circumstances.
It is hard to put a bright-line rule on what is a significant change that justifies re-visiting custody orders, but some examples include changes in work schedules or a decline in either parent’s or the child’s physical or emotional health.
After concluding that circumstances have changed, the court will also have to confirm that the change would be in the best interests of the children involved.