By: Alexandra Willen, Associate Attorney
If it has been some time since you have been divorced, or since you have received a Final Order that controls possession and conservatorship of your children, you may be asking: When Can I Modify my Order?
Under Texas Law, there are four grounds which allow a parent to modify conservatorship or possession.
- Agreement of the Parents
- Child’s Preference and the Best Interest of the Child
- Voluntary Relinquishment and Best Interest of the Child
- Material and Substantial Change and Best Interest of the Child
The most common ground for modification is material and substantial change, and the child’s best interest. So, you need to show that there has been some change since the last order that affects your child, the current possession schedule, or their wellbeing, and that modifying the order would be in your child’s best interest.
Your child’s preference to change the order, and their best interest is also a common ground for modification. In Texas, if your child is 12 years old or older, you can request that they be interviewed by the court so that they may tell the Judge who they prefer to live with. The judge can then consider your child’s preference when determining if the order should be modified. It must also be determined that the modification is in your child’s best interest. For example, if your 16-year-old wants to stay at your house because there are no rules and they are permitted to throw parties in the back yard, it would likely not be in their best interest to reside with you primarily.
In order to modify child support, you will generally need to show that (1) it has been three years since the last order, and (2) that the monthly child support would differ by 20% or $100.00. You may also Petition to modify a child support obligation due to a material and substantial change. For example, if your child was primarily living with their mother, but now they primarily live with you and you provide the majority of the day-to-day care, that could constitute a material and substantial change.
There are many other factors that come into consideration when you modify an order for conservatorship, possession, or support, but these are the basics that you need to think about if you are wondering if you can modify your order.