Austin Modification of Orders Lawyer

modification of orders child custody visitation

It can be a tremendous relief when you finally settle the terms of your divorce and move forward with your life. However, circumstances might change over time and require a modified arrangement with your ex. If you need to amend a child custody agreement, alimony order, child support settlement, or another order related to your divorce, turn to an experienced attorney for help.

At Minton, Bassett, Flores & Carsey, P.C., our Austin divorce lawyers understand the urgency of your situation. We know the importance of modifying the order to compensate for the significant changes in your life. With nearly six decades of experience, we can help, so call or reach out to us online now.

What Is a Modification of Orders?

A modification is a request made to the court to change the terms of an existing order. The petitioner must prove these two factors for the court to approve the request:

  • The circumstances of the petitioner or child substantially changed since the agreement that led to the order or the date of the last order; and
  • The modification request is in the best interest of the child.

Common examples of a substantial change in circumstances include:

  • The current custody arrangement is no longer possible.
  • The parent providing child support earns a higher or lower income.
  • One parent participates in neglectful, criminal, immoral, or abusive acts.
  • The child prefers to live with one parent over the other.
  • The parent ordered to provide health insurance to the child is unable to meet the requirement.
  • The supporting parent lost their job or suffered a demotion.
  • The living environment is unstable or toxic.
  • One parent wants to relocate to another geographical location.
  • The person awarded physical custody relinquished possession of the child to someone else.
  • The child’s needs have changed due to disability or medical issue.
  • One parent can’t control their child’s behavior.

Determining what’s in the child’s best interest is crucial in modification cases. A change in the parent’s or child’s circumstances doesn’t mean changing the order for child custody or support will benefit the child. The court will review all relevant information to determine if it agrees a modification is necessary.

Without a change in circumstances and the child’s best interest, modifications to child support orders can happen after three years from the date of the agreement or the date of the order. The court will review the order and amount to ensure it complies with the guidelines imposed by state law. Under special circumstances, the court can review or modify a child support order earlier than the three-year timeframe.

How Are Modifications Granted?

Modifying a court order will require specific steps. You must petition the court if you want to amend child custody, child support, or another order. Typically, you can file a motion to modify a post-divorce order after a year, except for a child support order which requires three years between each request.

The court might agree to a hearing before the required timeframe if there’s an urgent matter, such as child abuse, trouble at school, or the child’s injury or illness.

You must file your motion with the court where the initial filing occurred. You should include your requested changes to the current order. For example, if you want to amend the visitation schedule, explain why it is in your child’s best interest, and prove that a substantial change in circumstances exists.

The judge presiding over the case will set a date for you and your ex to appear in court. If your ex agrees to your requested changes, the appearance should be quick. The judge simply reviews the paperwork, determines if the modification meets the requirements under state law, and signs a new order.

However, if your ex contests the modification, you’ll have to attend a hearing before the judge. The judge will hear each side’s testimony and decide whether the case meets the requirements. They will issue their decision after reviewing everything they receive.

How Do Modification Requests Work in Austin, TX?

Two types of family law modifications are available in Texas: agreed modifications and default modifications.

Both parties will consent to the modifications in the motion during an agreed modification. The courts often approve agreed modifications promptly since a hearing isn’t necessary. It involves a brief court appearance both sides must attend so the judge can sign off on the new order.

A default modification occurs when the parties disagree on the modifications to the original order. The person who wants to make changes must file a default modification motion.

The process for default modifications involves additional steps and more responsibility than agreed modifications. Typically, the petitioning party must notify the other person of the modification petition and obtain proof of service.

The judge will set a hearing date for each side to present their cases and evidence to support their positions on the matter. Evidence can include documentation, such as:

  • Change in circumstances – A change in circumstances, such as a raise at work or getting married, could be substantial evidence to support a modification.
  • Proof of income – Showing a decrease or increase in income could support modifying the amount of child support.
  • Support is unnecessary – Support might not be necessary anymore due to specific changes in the child’s life. For example, the original order might include payments to cover the child’s special needs, such as a medical condition or disability. However, evidence shows the child recovered and doesn’t need treatment anymore.

Types of Modifications

An Austin modification of orders lawyer from Minton, Bassett, Flores & Carsey, P.C., could help you seek the modification of orders including:

  • Child support modification 
  • Geographic restriction modification
  • Alimony modification
  • Child custody modification

Child Support Modification

Texas courts determine the amount, frequency, and duration of child support payments by calculating a number based on the paying parent’s income and the number of children. Modifying a child support order might be necessary if either parent’s financial situation changes.

Common reasons the court might grant a modified child support order include:

  • Remarriage
  • Experiencing a sudden and significant change in income
  • Suffering a medical condition
  • Losing a job or getting demoted
  • Increase in expenses to meet the child’s needs

Geographic Restriction Modification

Geographic restrictions are vital to child custody agreements. The courts want each parent to provide a healthy and stable home life. For that reason, geographic restrictions set parameters for where the parent with primary custody can live with their kids.

However, if the custodial parent decides to relocate, it can complicate the child custody and visitation arrangement. Filing a geographic restriction modification is possible only if there’s a valid reason for the move, such as:

  • Better health or educational opportunities for the child
  • More family support at the new residence
  • Career advancement or job promotion resulting in better benefits, higher income, or a more convenient work schedule
  • Remarrying
  • Lack of interest or visitation by the non-custodial parent

Alimony Modification

Spousal maintenance is the financial obligation one ex-spouse has to the other. Eligibility to receive spousal support depends on various factors. The court considers the circumstances of each party and determines whether one is entitled to financial assistance after finalizing the divorce.

A range of scenarios could justify modifying the original order for spousal support. However, the petitioning party must prove a substantial and material change in circumstances. Examples include:

  • Severe injury or disability
  • Unemployment
  • Significant involuntary reduction in income
  • Remarrying
  • The supported party has a sudden increase in income

Child Custody Modification

The courts typically consider the child’s best interest when deciding custody. Either parent can petition the court for a modified order if they meet the requirements under state law. That means it must be over one year since the last child support order or agreement, and the change is in the child’s best interest.

Acceptable reasons for requesting a modified child custody order include:

  • One parent relocates
  • The person with primary custody voluntarily relinquishes the child to someone else for at least six months
  • One parent remarries
  • The child’s needs change
  • Debilitating injury or illness affects the parent’s ability to care for the child
  • One parent violates the geographic restriction
  • Significant conflict between a parent and the child
  • One parent interferes with the other’s visitation rights or schedule
  • Criminal conviction of one of the parents

Talk to Our Attorneys Now if You Need a Post-Divorce Modification

Changes in your life, your ex’s life, or your child’s life could require modifying a divorce order. When this happens, turn to an experienced Austin modification of orders attorney for the qualified counsel you deserve.

The divorce lawyers at Minton, Bassett, Flores & Carsey, P.C., have represented clients in Central Texas since 1963. If you want to modify an order for child support, child custody, alimony, or geographic restriction, call or reach out to us online and we’ll be ready to discuss your legal options.