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Resolving Confusion in Your Custody Arrangements

Co-parents and their children will adjust to their new arrangements after divorce. Perhaps the biggest adjustment is custody of the children. Especially if the couple has not been living separately prior to the divorce. 

Even if some couples are already on “trial separation,” custody arrangements are still a game-changer. It prohibits a parent from just dropping by and visiting their child unannounced.

What if there has been confusion in the arrangements, which could happen even if there was a trial? Or if there are changes that should affect the custody arrangements, whether in a positive or negative manner? While custody arrangements are final and executory, Texas law has provisions to revise them.

How to Revise Custody Arrangements

The court can make adjustments to the divorce orders even if there are no changes in the parents’ circumstances. This will be initiated if one or both parents file a petition. 

If both parents agree, it will only take a swift review for the judge, who would most likely approve it. Once approved, these changes will be enforced. 

However, if there is a contention between the parents, the process becomes more complicated. Both parents will be required to appear before the judges and present their respective cases. 

If one parent wants to take the primary caregiver status from the other, there are certain conditions. The child in question must be over 12 years of age. He or she must clearly express that he/she wants to change the primary caregiver. There should still be material and substantial reasons for this. 

For children below 12 years old, the modifications will be considered only if there is a significant change. The court has to be convinced that these changes are for the best interests of the child. 

Reasons for Modification

Some examples of the reasons mentioned:

Change in marital status: If the primary caregiver remarries, the new spouse could be a factor in affecting the capacity of the ex-spouse in being a caregiver.

Job Relocation and Unemployment: Part of being the primary caregiver is having a stable income. If there is a need to relocate because of the job, then the child may be displaced.

Medical conditions: If the primary caregiver becomes incapacitated or his capacity decreased by any medical condition, then the court would have to modify the arrangements so the child will be in a more capable caregiver. 

Abuse or Neglect: Needless to say, any instance of neglect or abuse disqualifies the ex-parent from custody. 

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Mr. Hutton is a Divorce and Custody Lawyer based out of Round Rock, TX. His background is with child psychology at Arizona State University where he received a B.S. in 2006, and he continued this by working with the Children’s Right’s Clinic at the University of Texas School of Law where he received his J.D. in 2009. Throughout his practice, he has been a strong proponent of utilizing modern technology to improve his practice and the representation of his clients. He currently is the technology chair of CAFA of Travis County and is committed to improving and modernizing the practice of law in Texas. If you have any questions you can contact him at timothy.hutton@austintexaslegal.com

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