A Texas court will consider changing a child custody or support order in response to a Petition to Modify the Parent-Child Relationship. The process is more efficient if both parents agree to the modification. However, regardless of whether the parents agree or disagree, this petition is the first step to modifying a support order.
There are several important prerequisites before a parent can petition a court to modify a child custody or support order. First, there must be a valid reason to modify the order. Valid reasons include significant changes to a parent's income or significant changes to the necessary cost of caring for the child, the child's own preferences for custody arrangements if the child is at least 12 years old or the custodial parent's relinquishment of custody to another party for at least six months. Second, courts will always prioritize the best interest of the child. Regardless of the other circumstances, courts will use this standard to make an ultimate decision about custody and support. There are also specific rules regarding military deployments and parent relocation.
The general process for filing the Petition has other logistical requirements including legal notice to the other parent, payment of filing fees, and attending a court hearing. It is important to follow the court rules for each of these steps, and it is also critical to file all paperwork with the proper court. In preparation for the court hearing, it may also be necessary to gather additional documentation of income, assets, and debts.
When considering a modification to a child custody or support order, it may be necessary to retain an attorney for proper filing protocol and to protect each parent's legal rights. Particularly for contested petitions, family law attorneys also may advise parents on legal strategies and relevant court precedent.
Source: TexasLawHelp.org, "How do I change custody and child support orders? ", December 23, 2014