Can child custody arrangements be changed in Texas?

The short answer is yes, you can modify child custody orders in Texas. For instance, if, as time passes, your custody arrangement with your ex is no longer ideal, the two of you can get together and come to a new agreement regarding custody. However, it is important to still go through the legal process of filing a petition and having the court sign off on the proposed change, otherwise you risk having an unenforceable agreement.

Alternatively, if you believe custody needs to be modified, but your ex doesn't agree, you can still ask the court for a modification, although you must be able to prove certain factors before a court will grant such a request.

Modifying custody when the parents can't agree

Texas law specifically outlines when your child custody arrangement - also known as conservatorship - can be modified by the court. First, you must be able to show that you, your child or the child's other parent has experienced a material and substantial change in circumstances. Many situations may constitute a sufficient change in circumstances, including when:

  • Your ex wants to move/relocate with your child, or your child experiences any change in his or her home surroundings
  • Your child is mistreated by the other parent or a stepparent
  • Your ex becomes an improper person to exercise custody
  • Your ex tries to alienate your child against you or otherwise attempts to poison his or her mind
  • Your ex gets remarried

However, it is crucial to keep in mind that this is not a complete list of circumstances that may warrant a custody modification, nor do these situations assure a modification will be granted. After all, Texas courts are not confined to a set of definite or rigid guidelines when making determinations regarding changes in custody, but instead must make their decisions based on an analysis of the facts specific to each request.

If a sufficient change in circumstances does not exist, a court will likely deny a child custody modification. Although, it is worth mentioning that there are two other situations - in addition to a change in circumstances - in which a Texas court may entertain a modification request:

  • When a child over the age of 12 has expressed a preference between his or her parents
  • When a custodial parent has voluntarily surrendered possession or otherwise abandoned the child for at least six months

Modification requests must be in the child's best interests

Even if you are able to show a substantial change in circumstances - or one of the other situations mentioned above - you must still be able to prove that your proposed custody change in your child's best interests. In fact, Texas law expressly states that the best interests of the child are the primary consideration in any child custody case.

Given all of the intricate laws and rules associated with child custody modification in Texas, it is always best to seek the legal guidance of an experienced attorney if you have any questions. A skilled attorney can guide you through this complex process and carefully explain your rights and options.