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Updating Your Co-Parenting Agreement

Even after the divorce has been finalized, life goes on for both ex-spouses. As they move on, the only thing certain is change. Some of these changes may have direct effects, specifically on the children.

Custody is a sensitive matter, and the court will always reiterate that any arrangement is focused on the protection of the children. Thus, if any changes in the lives of the co-parents will compromise the welfare of the children, then they will intervene.

If you feel that the co-parenting agreement needs to be modified because of new phases in you or your co-parent’s lives, then Texas law has methods to update them.

Modifications on the Co-parenting Agreement

If you and your co-parent agree to the changes, you can get together and work out the new parenting plan and custody schedule. Once both parties have signed, you can submit it to court and they would usually accept the conditions if it complies with all legal prerequisites. 

There are times when there are some points of disagreement in the proposed co-parenting modification. If you could not work it out with your ex-spouse, then you can ask help from a family counselor or a custody mediator. 

You and your co-parent can change the terms, schedules, and conditions of the agreement as deemed fit to the changes in your lives. These changes should be stated in writing and signed by both parties, with both parties retaining a copy. If the changes require a court order, then they should submit the proposed agreement as a court document. 

Disputes in Modification

There would be complications if only one side wants to have modification while the other side is happy with the status quo. This means you have to go to court to have these changes enforced. 

You need to file a petition for child custody modification. This means you will face each other in a custody hearing, and the burden of proof falls on the proponent. In this case, it is you. The judge can then decide whether the proposal is acceptable. If it is, then he will issue an order to enforce it. The judge can also modify the proposed provisions as he deems fit, or even just deny it outright.

Burden of Proof

As the petitioner, you need to justify the need for the modification. You have to present the change and how it would affect the child. Some of the reasons presented would be: 

  • The other parent has a new companion 
  • The home of the primary custodian is no longer safe
  • The parent’s work schedule has changed
  • The current time schedule is not being enforced or followed
  • Changes in the behavior of a parent that could place the child in danger

These and other reasons have to be compelling enough for the court to necessitate the court orders.

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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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