In: Child Custody Modification, Divorce0

She’s moving to Austin and you need to update your custody arrangement

The divorce was uncontested and the kids moved seamlessly between the two houses, but now your ex-wife the chef is moving to Austin and opening a food truck that sells nothing but kimchi. Strange things are indeed afoot, but changes in custody arrangements between divorced parents are quite common in Texas even when the circumstances are not.

Texas custody laws allow for specific instances when you can modify the child custody or visitation orders. These include the following 4 reasons:

1. The circumstances of the child or the parent have substantially changed since the original arrangement was drawn up. Moving to Austin qualifies, as does a new job with a less consistent income stream. A new medical condition does as well.

2. The child is at least 12 years old and they have told the court in chambers that they would like to change the agreement. Perhaps the older daughter doesn’t want to spend her senior year in a new high school. The 12-year-old son may not want to live with mom if she’s working six nights a week. Even so, this is just taken under advisement — the child does not have the last word. The court will only make a change in the arrangement if it believes that it’s in the best interests of the kid/s.

3. The custodial parent voluntarily agrees. She knows that opening a new restaurant is an iffy and time-consuming endeavor. Generally speaking, the custodial parent may relinquish the care of a child temporarily for up to six months, but this does not apply to the care of the child if the parent is in the military and has been deployed, mobilized or is otherwise unavailable because of his or her service.

4. Your child has been abused. Texas law is particularly reactive in the instance of child abuse, physical or emotional. If this occurs, the court may consider a new order for custody or visitation rights that protects the child or children.

Some other things to consider when you file a motion

A parent who files a petition for modification of the custody order within one year of the original arrangement must also submit an affidavit to the clerk’s office where the custody order was originally filed. The allegation must include facts to support it. Generally speaking — and we cannot stress this enough — it has to be in the child’s best interests.

Do you need legal help?

If the two parents are in complete agreement about the change in the arrangement, there is no need to involve an attorney. However, often this isn’t the case. Then an experienced lawyer in Texas family law will help you avoid ending up with a sour taste in your mouth.

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